WAUKESHA — Kai Lermer was a three-sport athlete in 2019 when he went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest and died. Kai had an undiagnosed heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White, a congenital heart disease. Kai’s parents, Michael and Patty Lermer, have since used legislation and community events to help prevent other kids, and their parents, from learning about a heart issue too late.
The Lermer’s created the Kai Lermer Memorial Fund and have partnered with HeartSmartEKG to provide a cheaper, easier option for parents to get their kid’s hearts tested. Every August since 2020, HeartSmartEKG and the Lermer family have put on events where hundreds of high schoolers could receive an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), a test that can detect certain heart issues.
In 2020, about 200 high school students were tested. In 2021, that number doubled to almost 400 students tested. And in 2022, nearly 500 students received testing. Throughout the testing, Kai’s mom, Patty Lermer, says they have discovered multiple abnormalities.
“We found two Wolff-Parkinson-Whites, which is what Kai had. We also found two other abnormalities that needed doctor’s attention,” said Lermer.
Patty Lermer, however, said while this sort of testing is important, it is still difficult when they do find heart issues.
“You know it’s kind of a double-edged sword. You are happy that you found it, but you don’t ever wish to find it. But finding these issues does make us feel like we accomplished something,” said Lermer.
In addition to these events, the Lermer Family and HeartSmartEKG have collaborated with Southeastern Wisconsin area schools to provide tests for their students. The Kai Lermer Memorial Fund has also provided automated external defibrillators (AED) to numerous organizations through their AED placement program.
The Lermer family’s fight doesn’t end there, however. The family, in collaboration with former State Rep. Scott Allen, wrote the Kai 11 bill (AB82), which was signed into law by Governor Evers in March 2022.
The law requires the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association to provide parents of student-athletes with information on Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It also gives parents the option to get their child EKG tested before participating in any sport.
The family also just received approval for their 501C3 non-profit, the Kai 11 Save A Heart Mission. Lermer says to look out for future screenings on their Facebook page.
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