A Christmas Present to share…

RobbieChristmas is over but the beauty of its presence still rings on in my heart. I received an exceptionally special gift during the holiday. This present brought so much joy to my husband and me that I wanted to share the story.  It is a testimonial from a mom whose son attended our screening at McLean High School in Fairfax, VA. last spring. She wrote:

My son, Robbie Arwood, is a 16 year-old Sophomore in High School.  He is a 6’3″ athlete who has always played every season of sports and has been active in Basketball, Soccer and Marching Band and we have always thought him to be a very healthy young man.  Over the last 3 years, he had a few episodes of dizziness and shortness of breath during physical sports play.  The few times this happened, we took him to the doctor and each time he was sent home as being in great condition with a diagnosis of being dehydrated.  I was not concerned at all as these issues really were rare and seemed minor.  My mom saw an email about your free EKG Screenings at McLean High in May of 2014 and she insisted that I take my son.  As soon as the EKG was finished, we took the results down the hall to one of the volunteer doctors where she read my son’s EKG. The doctor could see the Delta Wave right away and really urged us to go see a cardiologist.  We did and I am so thankful.  Robbie was diagnosed immediately with a high-risk case of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, which if left untreated, can ruin the heart.  His doctor suggested Cardiac Catheterization Ablation heart surgery to repair this birth defect and Robbie just went thru this procedure on December 10th.  The surgery is minimally invasive and has a very high success rate for correcting the underlying issue.   Robbie’s surgery went very well and his doctor says he will likely be playing basketball again by the first week of January.  I can honestly say that this foundation likely saved my son’s life as I do not think Robbie’s WPW would have been uncovered had we not done the EKG.  I am so thankful for The Ryan Lopynski Big Heart Foundation for helping me to save my son and I have so much respect for Ryan’s family for taking such a personal tragedy and turning it into such good for so many.  I will be forever grateful!

We are grateful that Nikki took the time to share her son’s story. It is youths like Robbie, who inspire us to continue our screenings. We hope to save more teens in 2015! God Bless!!!

Peggy Fox from WUSA featured his story February 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Tribute to Family and Channel 8 News!

8News Investigates: Sudden Cardiac Arrest #1 Cause of Teen Athlete Death


It is the Saturday before Thanksgiving 2014. The preparation for Thanksgiving began yesterday as Shannon safely arrived home from Va. Tech for Thanksgiving break. Erin was excited to finish her first week with her own Cardiac patients at her new job at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. Dillon, played in a scrimmage to kick off his last Robinson Varsity basketball season, and Johnny finally arrived home from a week of business travel, from Nashville to Chicago, and then to Tampa. Whirlwind!

But the real excitement yesterday hit our house at 12:00 pm as the Channel 8 News truck arrived lugging large bags filled with commercial grade camera equipment, lights and microphones.   Kristin Smith, the news anchor from Richmond, had emailed me last week in search of other organizations in Virginia who have provided free EKG screenings like ours. I told her we were it.

So there she stood in our kitchen yesterday with Abraham Stubblefield the camera-man/producer. She was eager to hear our story after a local family lost their own daughter, Cameron Gallagher, to SCA. Cameron had just completed her first ½ marathon at the Shamrock Va. Beach Marathon in March. She crossed the finish line, collapsed and died.

Despite our ever-present heartache, we shared our story as we have done for 5+ years, eager for viewers to understand how important it is to screen your teen.

Today, as I reflect on last week filled with so much excitement, great energy and endless opportunity, it all revolves around family. So it is not surprising that I consider family as my most precious gift and the part of my life that I am most thankful.   As a family who has always been close, we have become even more so with Ryan’s intervention from Heaven. With his daily presence in our lives, he guides us through the process of screening our teens, fundraising and spreading awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Fortunately for us, the media is recognizing the gravity of this issue, as more and more families experience the painful and unexpected loss of a child to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Please share the link below, to continue to ignite the flame of SCA awareness. I am thankful this holiday season for Kristen and Abraham with Channel 8 news Richmond, for giving the Lopynski and Gallagher families the opportunity to share their stories.

View Complete WRIC News Story

Video Courtesy of WRIC News, Copyright 2014 Young Broadcasting of Richmond


All in the Family with Cardiac Health

erinlopynski_firstjobofferMy oldest daughter, Erin, just accepted her first “real job” offer. Wow! How did it happen so fast? She graduated only a year ago from Va. Tech, and just completed her Dietetic Internship. A few weeks ago, she passed her test to become a Registered Dietitian…. and then BOOM!!! A week later she lands her first “real job” at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, in the CARDIAC Rehabilitation Center. Really? Cardiac? Out of all the departments in the hospital she ends up in the cardiac center? What is the probability? Thank you Kim Fulton for the referral, and as always, thank you Ryan for working your magic from the heavens!

Erin starts her job on Monday and we couldn’t be more proud of her. She is excited to learn about the nutritional demands of cardiac patients, as she shares her knowledge with the many cardiac patients needing dietetic guidance. As Erin becomes more knowledgeable and makes meaningful connections at INOVA, our foundation will continue to flourish as she passes on invaluable information. Our family continues to be humbled by the many blessings that are given to us, and as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we are feeling truly thankful.

BTW, feel free to connect with Erin on Linked In: www.linkedin.com/pub/erin-lopynski-rd/33/a0/b55/

My First Blog

ethans-photo-225x300Today I am writing my first blog.  It is also my youngest son Dillon’s 18th birthday.  He is the same age as our oldest son, Ryan, who passed away from Sudden Cardiac Arrest  (SCA) 5 years and almost 6 months ago today.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not talk with Ryan, thank him for giving us those very precious 18 years, and ask him for guidance in helping us to save other teens that may have SCA.  It is his powerful presence that ultimately inspired our foundation.  He is here, he is vocal, and he is inspiring our every move as he holds our hand.

My intention for blogging is to spread the word of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. (SCA).  In this first blog, I want to share the story of Ethan Tourtellotte, one of Dillon’s best friends who lives in our community of Hayden Village. He is one of the fortunate teens to have been screened.

Here is his story:

During the summer of 2013 before entering my junior year at Fairfax High School, I attended one of the first free EKG screenings in Fairfax County hosted by The Ryan Lopynski Big Heart Foundation.  I wanted to support my neighbor and one of my best friend’s, Dillon Lopynski, as well as his family’s mission.  The cardiologist at the event discovered an abnormality from my EKG results. After my follow-up appointment, it was discovered that I had Wolf-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome, a potentially fatal heart condition with no symptoms. I was then referred to the Children’s National Medical Center for my surgery. It was a five-hour procedure that corrected my heart condition. Now I can live life to its fullest as I continue to play Varsity Football.  I feel blessed to be alive, thanks to The Ryan Lopynski Big Heart Foundation!