All posts by The Gable Heart Beats Team

Young family’s foundation aims at the heart

After her 38-year-old husband Michael suddenly died of cardiac arrest Sept. 17, 2009, Michelle Gable learned that he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which could have been detected with a screening.

Then just two weeks later, her baby daughter Grace had a cough that kept worsening and doctors found she was suffering from an enlarged heart. Grace spent her first birthday in the intensive care unit and was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Gable became determined to alert others to these hidden dangers and help provide screenings to detect such heart defects before they proved fatal. She and her friend Amy Mayo — whose husband Stefan was in the band Segue with Michael Gable — founded the nonprofit Gable Heart Beats to work toward these goals.

“We knew Michael would want to save lives. And we wanted to honor him,” Mayo said.

Tomorrow, 200 young soccer players from Pleasanton RAGE and Ballistic United will receive EKGs and echocardiograms at the Amador Recreation Center, thanks to Gable Heart Beats.

“Ultimately it can save lives of those who may not know they have cardiomyopathy or any other heart condition,” Gable said. “In our family’s case, we had no idea about the condition.”

HCM, an excessive thickening of the heart muscle, is the No. 1 cause of sudden cardiac arrests in young athletes, Mayo said, and it affects more than 600,000 people in the United States.

Although Michael and his baby daughter Grace didn’t have the same cardiomyopathy, the conditions are related and hereditary. Son Matteo, 10, has been tested and is negative. For those who test positive, it is often possible to improve the condition with medications, as in Grace’s case, said Michelle Gable.

Now, seven years after her 2009 diagnosis, Grace is doing “fantastic.”

“There are no limitations on her activities,” Michelle Gable said. “She is playing soccer for RAGE, basketball for Pleasanton Rec, and she’s doing great in school. We see her cardiologist every six months.”

Mayo said that the first thing they did after establishing the foundation was to look for others with the same goals. They located Holly Morrell in Laguna Beach, who pioneered the grassroots cardiac screening effort in 1999 with her Heartfelt Cardiac Project. They attended Heartfelt’s screenings done in the Bay Area.

“We would observe and volunteer — and get a feeling for how the screening was done,” Mayo recalled.

“Last year we did our first screening, we went to our first high school — St. Ignatius in San Francisco, where we screened over 150 students and staff,” she said.

They collaborated with the Peter Patrick Madigan Antonini Foundation, started in honor of Peter, a 21-year-old San Franciscan who was about to enter the firefighter training academy when he collapsed and died while jogging on Ocean Beach in 2002. The screenings included both EKG and echocardiograms, which normally cost patients about $1,500.

“We learned about how many we could see in a day,” Mayo said. “It takes about 15-20 minutes to do the echo.”

An EKG detects a heart’s electrical issues, explained Gable, and an echocardiogram takes a picture of the structure of the heart.

“If Michael had been given an echocardiogram, he would be here today,” she said. “His was not an electrical issue but a structural issue.”

“Although it is more costly for us, we won’t do a heart screening unless we are also doing the echo,” she added. “We do the best we can to give parents a picture of their child’s heart health.”

The St. Ignatius screening found five students to be referred to cardiologists for a more extensive echocardiogram.

“We referred them to someone in the area and will make sure there is follow-through,” Mayo said.

“It feels good when you detect something when their parents had no idea,” Gable said. “We’re very empowered to continue with what Michael would have wanted — and to reach that goal in five years is phenomenal. We are empowered that we are educating and helping to save lives.”

Gable Heart Beats has focused on soccer players since the sport is an important part of the family’s life. Michael Gable was a soccer star growing up in Monroe, Wash., where he was one of the few bi-racial students, and he received a full athletic scholarship to St. Mary’s College. There he met Michelle, also a soccer player, who graduated from Foothill High.

Gable noted that they began to coordinate with BUSC and RAGE after sharing their vision with two board members.

“Ray Morgan and Jon Asmussen were instrumental in seeing our vision,” she said. “They brought us in to their fundraiser — we got a portion of the funds, which we are putting back into heart screening.”

Saturday’s screening covers 100 of the young soccer players for free and is charging $40 for another 100, ages 5 to 18.

“We filled the slots very fast,” Gable said. “We sold all the paid spots within 2-1/2 days.”

In November, Michelle, Matteo and Grace were recognized at a City Council meeting when they donated two AEDs to the city.

“My kids were able to hand over the AEDs to the mayor, and they are being installed onsite at the Sports Park, at the snack bar,” Gable said.

The ability to donate AEDs and provide screenings, of course, necessitates fundraising, and the fifth annual fundraising event — a dinner, silent and live auctions with live music — is being held at Crow Canyon Country Club.

“The first one was held at St. Mary’s, then it was at my house for three years,” Gable said.

“As we’ve grown, our fundraising efforts have also grown,” Mayo noted. “It was $5,000, $10,000, then $15,000 as we all pulled together to get great auction items. It was $20,000 at one fundraiser.”

The event also will feature speakers, this year including Matteo and Grace.

“This is the first time the kids are coming,” Gable said. “My son wants to speak about Gable Heart Beats, and Grace wants to do it, too. They have the courage to speak about what it means to them and how thankful they are for people to support the cause.”

“Michael must be smiling down, so proud of these guys,” she added.

“That’s a huge part of it, the younger generation helping to educate,” Mayo said. “If they take that on, we can keep sharing the message for years to come.”

Another fundraiser is sales of the album “One Race Human, a Tribute to Michael Gable,” which was produced by Segue, a compilation that includes Michael’s songs that speak to his passion for living each moment with love and gratitude. Michael was a singer and songwriter with the band for 15 years. It can be ordered at gableheartbeats.org.

More also can be learned about Gable Heart Beats on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Gable family will attend the heart screening tomorrow, as will Michelle’s parents.

“It is nice to give more to the community that we live in,” Gable said.

She is proud to be continuing a primary goal she had with Michael: rearing their children in Pleasanton, where Matteo and Grace attend Mohr Elementary. The family’s new goal is to prevent their tragedy from happening to others.

“In our family, we had no idea about Michael. He wasn’t symptomatic and it happened so quickly,” Gable said. Now her mission is “to be able to bring awareness to others and to provide those heart screenings, to save families from what we had to go through.”

Signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

* Shortness of breath

* Heart palpitations

* Dizziness

* Fainting

* Unexplained fatigue

* Chest pain or pressure

Also research your medical history for sudden or unexpected deaths before the age of 55.

— Gable Heart Beats Foundation

Gable Heart Beats mixes music with medicine to search for hearts in need of repair

A host of SI grads and their families came to SI to help with heart screenings in February. From left are Mason Deal, Aidan Deal, Joaby Deal ’92, Amy Gervasi Mayo, Solia Mayo, Keaton Mayo, Stefan Mayo ’89, Michelle Gable, Ralph Barsi ’89, Kathe Torok Barsi, Jasmine Wylie, Bill Taylor ’82, Holly Morrell and Stacy Wong Barnard. For more information, go to www.gableheartbeats.com.

Musicians will tell you that the rhythms of the heart are at the heart of most songs. They will add, too, that the most powerful music is often tragic.

Those truths aren’t lost on members of the band Segue, whose musicians have included men from the class of 1989 who experienced their own tragedy in 2009 when their lead singer Michael Gable died, the victim of an enlarged heart, otherwise known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

Because music also has the power to heal, members of the band transformed their loss into a the Gable Heart Beats Foundation in 2009 to raise money for the detection of heart disease, including HCM, a genetic disorder that affects more than 700,000 Americans and that ended the life of several SI grads over the decades, including Dennis Carter ’64, Owen Fitzgerald ’93 and Peter Antonini ’00. Later, Patrick Dunne ’14, who has HCM, led seminars at SI on the condition.

On Feb. 5, the surviving members of the band and their spouses —Amy Gervasi Mayo and Stefan Mayo ’89, Kathe Torok Barsi and Ralph Barsi ’89, Michelle Gable and Bill Taylor ’82 — came to SI to offer free screenings to prevent others from falling victim to HCM and other forms of heart disease.

A week before the screenings, they sat in the Student Activities Center to answer questions. The group also chose to do their work in the student center, just outside the athletics offices, “to make the process more comfortable for students,” Barsi added.

The screenings happened thanks to a partnership with Heartfelt Cardiac Projects of Laguna Beach and its trained volunteers. The two foundations together screened more than 150 SI students and faculty with free electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (echo) tests.

Those screenings revealed results outside normal limits for five individuals, who were referred for further follow up with a cardiologist. In addition, 21 others had borderline results and were advised to follow up with their primary care doctors. These 26 individuals also received support from Heartfelt Cardiac Projects and will receive future support from Gable Heart Beats.

Also lending their support were SI students, who donated $800 to defray costs to what the foundation hopes will be a regular event at the school.

The foundation’s origins began with Gable, who was a gifted D1 soccer athlete at St. Mary’s College. There, he met Michelle Michelotti who also played D1 soccer, and a decade later, they married and had two children, Matteo and Grace.

Barsi met Gable at St. Mary’s College, where they lived in the same dorm. Gable regularly sang in the shower, which resonated throughout the halls of the dorm. “You could hear him singing a mile away,” Barsi recalled. “He had such a beautiful voice, especially with the echo of the shower.”

After hearing Gable sing at the on-campus pub, Barsi knew he wanted to play with him in a band one day. A year later, Barsi formed Segue with John Pasha ’89, Dan Burke ’89, Graham Burke ’89, Matt Dirkes and Martin Burke ’92. Later, Stefan Mayo ’89, a harmonica player, joined the band.

Graham eventually left, opening a vocalist spot for Gable. “The band loved him, “said Barsi. “We gave him the prime spot without hesitation. He also became an honorary Wildcat, as he was surrounded by SI guys and was part of our family.”

For more than 15 years, Gable performed with Segue in some of the most respected venues in the Bay Area, backed at times by all those mentioned above as well as Mark Fassler ’91, Thad Bedard, Brian Shindledecker and Rick Garcia.

Various combinations of these musicians played original songs in venues such as the Red Devil Lounge, Bimbo’s, Grant and Green, DNA Lounge, Sweetwater and the Concord Pavilion.

The men also worked at day jobs, including Gable, who, along with his wife, sold Internet advertising.

After returning home from a business trip to San Diego in 2009, Gable went to bed. “I woke up because of his loud breathing,” said Michelle. “I turned on the lights and saw that Michael was struggling.” She called 911 and attempted CPR. The paramedics, who found him unconscious when they arrived, got his heart going again, but he died at the hospital after going into cardiac arrest.

Two weeks after Michael’s funeral, their daughter, Grace, 11 months old at the time, began coughing. “I thought she just had a bad cough, but it persisted to the point where I took her to Oakland Children’s Hospital, where doctors told me she was in complete heart failure.”

She survived after spending a month in the ICU, where she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which is genetically related to her father’s HCM. “Now Grace is 7 and doing great,” said Michelle. “I even coach her in soccer. Ralph calls her ‘a beam of light.’”

A year after Gable’s death, the remaining band members — Barsi, Mayo, Fassler and Taylor — knew they needed to keep the band together and recruit a new lead singer. “Gable would have wanted us to continue playing,” said Mayo. They invited friend and musician Justin Achziger to join, and for the next six years, Segue went on to play in the Bay Area music scene. “The music will never stop,” said Barsi.

Because of Grace’s near-death experience and Michael’s death, the members of the band and their spouses also decided get to the heart of the matter.

“We wanted to raise awareness of the prevalence and dangers of cardiomyopathy and heart disease so that other families wouldn’t have to undergo what Michelle and her family went through,” said Amy, who works in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist. “We knew that Michael would not want any family to endure what his family had gone through.”

Segue then released a CD, One Race Human, in honor of Michael, and donated the proceeds to fund research, heart screenings and automated electronic defibrillators. Gable Heart Beats also partnered with Holly Morrell, a pioneer in the field, who also suffers from HCM and who began Heartfelt Cardiac Projects with the same mission as their own group — to save lives.

“She survived because of open heart surgery,” said Amy. “One third of people with HCM see improvements with surgery, another third improve with drug therapy, and the remaining third either die or get better on their own.”

Both foundations know that hope lies in early screening. EKG testing, however doesn’t always detect enlarged hearts. Echocardiograms, which use ultrasound technology, can detect HCM, but these tests can cost upwards of $1,500 in a hospital setting.

Gable Heart Beats Foundation raises money for these screenings through online donations and a wine auction held each February, which is American Heart Month. Thus far, the group has raised $15,000, allowing their partner, Heartfelt to screen in high schools, where they can bring the cost of both echo and EKG testing to as low as $85 per student thanks to volunteers. They focus on high school students because some heart defects don’t develop until after puberty and because every day three teenage athletes die of cardiac arrest in the U.S.

This outreach, including a social media campaign, has paid off. Gable Heart Beats has earned the support of celebrities, including Macklemore, Roberta Flack, singer-songwriter and X-Factor contestant Chris Rene, American Idol winner Lee DeWyze, American Idol finalist Andrew Garcia and Pete Moore of The Miracles — all musicians who appreciate the musical origins of the foundation.

Athletes have also lent their names to the effort, including NBA stars Bo Kimble and Ronny Turiaf as well as Stephen Curry’s father, Dell, who tweeted a post supporting Gable Heart Beats.

“They do this because they have heard of someone who has fallen victim to HCM, such as Hank Gathers, who died in 1990 while playing basketball for Loyola Marymount,” added Mayo.

Heartfelt Cardiac Projects is careful to screen students using both EKGs and echo testing. “Michael had an EKG that came back with normal results,” said Michelle. “If he had had an echocardiogram, he would still be alive today, as doctors would have caught his condition in time and treated him with medication to help shrink his heart.”

Ironically, it was the size of Michael’s loving heart that first drew Mayo to him. “Michael’s energy was bigger than life and always an inspiration for me,” he noted. “He was always a positive person who looked to help others. He inspired me to do the same.”

Taylor, an employee at Salesforce.com, was inspired to help too. “Salesforce is deeply rooted in philanthropy,” said Taylor, who focuses his efforts and those of his Salesforce team toward supporting the foundation.

You can help raise awareness by following Gable Heart Beats and Heartfelt Cardiac Projects on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, where you will learn about upcoming screenings and heart health education.

Roberta Flack, shows her support for February, “American Heart Month”

roberta flack - love songs Gable Heart Beats is honored to have singer-songwriter, Roberta Flack, showing her support and raising awareness for February, “American Heart Month.”

Roberta Flack, queen of love songs, is best known for her classic #1 singles “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“, “Killing Me Softly with His Song“, and “Feel Like Makin’ Love“; and for “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You.”

Ms. Flack is featured in the photo below with our custom Gable Heart Beats “heart” necklace.

A percentage of every necklace sold will help fund heart screenings and AEDs in high schools nationwide.

Roberta_Flack

To purchase GHB heart necklace or additional custom jewelry go to : https://www.etsy.com/shop/GableHeartBeats

For more information about upcoming heart screenings and AED/CPR training, please visit:

Nick of Time: http://nickoftimefoundation.org/

Heartfelt Projects: http://www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/

44 for Life:  http://www.44forlife.org/

Youth and family heart screenings, CPR training, and AEDs in our schools and communities, will save lives!

A huge thank you to Roberta Flack for helping us raise awareness and educate about the #1 killer in the US, Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

The beat goes on…

Roberta Flack
http://www.robertaflack.com/

Macklemore supports Gable Heart Beats

macklemore_picGable Heart Beats is honored to have support from Grammy winner, Macklemore.

In an effort to raise awareness during National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, Macklemore is supporting Gable Heart Beats and wearing our custom GHB dog tag necklace.

Proceeds from our GHB jewelry line https://www.etsy.com/shop/GableHeartBeats# and all donations will help fund high school heart screenings.

The screenings will take place in Washington and Southern California areas with our partners, Nick of Time Foundation and Heartfelt Cardiac Projects. In addition, proceeds will help fund our partner organization, 44 for Life, for ongoing CPR training and AED placement in schools and communities.

For more information about upcoming heart screenings and AED/CPR training, please visit:

Nick of Time: http://nickoftimefoundation.org/

Heartfelt Projects: http://www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/

44 for Life:  http://www.44forlife.org/

Youth and family heart screenings, CPR training, and AEDs in our schools and communities, will save lives!

A huge thank you to Macklemore for helping us raise awareness and educate about Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the #1 killer in the US.

http://macklemore.com/

GHB Welcomes Singer-Songwriter Chris Rene

Grammy Award winning record producer L.A. Reid has called Chris Rene “one of the special ones.” A former trash collector from Santa Cruz, 29 year-old Chris is now cleaning up house as an artist who just signed with Reid’s Epic Records. Chris is also now part of the Gable Heart Beats Foundation, a non-profit organization whose community of musicians, athletes, entertainers, and influencers raises awareness of heart diseases and helps save lives. With a motto to “LOVE LIFE,” Chris Rene’s flourishing music career and worldwide influence on young people is a perfect fit for Gable Heart Beats.

America was introduced to Chris Rene during the first season of The X Factor, a television talent show produced by former American Idol judge Simon Cowell. Chris touched the hearts of the show’s audience with his story of overcoming drug addiction and choosing to use his music as a way to improve the lives of others, especially his son. In his debut performance on The X Factor, Chris sang one of his original pieces, called “Young Homie.” In it he proclaims to “let this music heal like an overture…that’s how it’s supposed to be, living life with loved ones close to me.” Many of his loved ones are also musicians: His grandfather is the late composer Leon René, whose hits included “Rockin’ Robin,” and his father is the late musician and songwriter Googie Rene.

In late January of this year, he met the Foundation’s Executive Director, Amy Mayo. She and Board member Michelle Gable took their children to see Chris perform in Santa Cruz. “I’d be honored to support Gable Heart Beats,” Chris shared with them, “If I can save just one life by educating my fans on maintaining a healthy heart, it would make my [career’s] purpose that much greater.” Chris will keep good company in the Gable Heart Beats Community.
He joins the likes of NBA basketball alums Bo Kimble and Ronny Turiaf, songwriter Pete Moore of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles fame, in addition to American Idol finalist Andrew Garcia and winner Lee DeWyze.

The Gable Heart Beats team works all over the globe to raise funds that put defibrillators in US schools and provide access to low-fee heart screenings. The Foundation was inspired by the life and music of Michael Gable, who died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest at age 38, as a result of having Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Michael was a scholar-athlete, as well as a musician. Michael’s band, Segue, produced a posthumous release of the album One Race Human, to share his music and push these efforts forward.

“You can’t help but smile when you are in his presence,” said Mayo, “His energy and love of life is infectious. Chris has a tremendous spirit and a genuine desire to help others and give back. He is a perfect representation of the Gable Heart Beats Foundation and its Community.”
L.A. Reid was right: Chris is one of the special ones.

Learn more about Chris Rene at www.chrisreneofficial.com and follow him on Twitter @MrChrisRene. Make a donation and download the album One Race Human by visiting GableHeartBeats.org. Twitter users can follow the Gable Heart Beats Foundation @GableHeartBeats.