Lorie Tekorius has heard the stories too often: young athletes who suddenly collapse on the track, football field, or basketball court.

“Few things are as tragic as when a seemingly-healthy youth’s heart suddenly stops while at play,” says Lorie Tekorius, Executive Vice President, CFO with The Greenbrier Companies and a member of the Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation Council of Trustees.

That’s why the company, a leading international supplier of freight rail transportation equipment and services, chose to give $400,000 – the largest gift in its history – to Providence Heart Institute and the Play Smart™ program. Play Smart, launched in 2012, screens youth for issues that can cause sudden cardiac arrest or heart disease.

It also brought Play Smart screenings to its annual company picnic attended by several thousand employees and their families, including the Zirker and Medina families, pictured above with Tekorius and Play Smart manager Lydia Hibsch.

“The Greenbrier Companies have made a tremendous gift,” says Dan Oseran, M.D., the institute’s executive medical director. “Their support will accelerate our work to prevent tragic deaths among youth and continue to bring our patients the world’s best heart care.”  The gift also supports the institute’s new Center for Cardiovascular Analytics, Research and Data Science, or CARDS.

According to James Beckerman, M.D., medical director of prevention and wellness at the heart institute and Play Smart’s founder, congenital heart disease is a leading cause of sudden death in young people, often striking during or just after athletic play.  Play Smart’s free screenings seek to prevent these tragedies.

“These conditions are rare,” says Dr. Beckerman. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but a needle that can kill you. We also find a lot of young people with high blood pressure and other conditions that can lead to future heart disease.”

Thanks to The Greenbrier Companies and other supporters, Play Smart has provided screenings in schools and parks to more than 17,000 students, including 7,000 in the past year. Nearly 1,200 have needed follow-up, some for potentially dangerous issues.

“This cause is one that is dear to so many here at Greenbrier,” says Tekorius. “If our efforts can help save even one child from a potentially deadly congenital heart condition, it will have been more than worth it.”