An opportunity for outreach around an important public health topic has brought several Boone Area Chamber of Commerce members to the table to create a community awareness initiative.

The Omar Carter Foundation, a non-profit agency focused on cardiac health awareness and training, has teamed with Appalachian Regional Health Care System (ARHS), the Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS) at Appalachian State, the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician’s Assistant program, and App State Athletics, on a series of events that will take place in Boone February 16th-17th.

“This effort has been an inspiring display of what our community can achieve when we work together,” said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “Both the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and the Beaver College of Health Sciences were seeking a way to have an impactful event center around cardiovascular health and awareness during American Hearth Month. Once both groups got together and heard Omar’s story, the wheels rolled quickly toward a full-scale community event that focused on awareness, training, and education on available local services. I feel the proximity of the Beaver College of Health Sciences to the ARHS headquarters will only lead to further collaborations of this kind.”

On February 6th, Carter conducted a special seminar with current Appalachian State University student-athletes, where he talked about the importance of cardiac health and the aftermath of dealing with such a life-altering episode at a young age. He was joined by Dr. Donna Denier, Medical Director for Cardiology, and Ms. Lesley Hastings, Director of Cardiovascular and Surgical Services from ARHS who spoke about the statistics and figures of sudden cardiac events, the importance of signs and symptoms and fielded overall clinical questions from the group. The student-athletes in attendance were also able to partake in bystander CPR training, led by Ms. Hastings, Dr. Denier and Mr. Carter. This training serves as the core focus of Carter’s outreach vision.

Chuck Mantooth, ARHS’s President and CEO commented on the collaborative by saying, “Despite advances in treatment of heart disease, it is still the leading cause of death in our region. We are excited to be part of the Healthy Heart Community Collaborative. It presents a unique opportunity to provide CPR and AED education and training to thousands of people in the High Country, in a new and meaningful way.”

Carter will return to town with OCF to conduct a series of campus lectures, community events, and CPR training sessions Friday, February 16 and Saturday, February 17th. The goal of these sessions will be to provide bystander training to students and members of the community, so they will know the proper steps to take should they encounter a sudden cardiac event.

Friday morning, Carter will be joined by Leslie Hastings ARHS to address the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Business Development Committee meeting. The conversation will center on the importance of bystander CPR training and AED placement in the workplace.

From there, the group moves to Watauga High School for a special assembly of the full student-body, where Carter, Dr. Donna Denier, and other ARHS staff, will discuss cardiac health issues. Since 2014-15, high school students in North Carolina have been required to complete CPR and first aid training as a graduation requirement.

Later Friday morning, Carter partners with Dr. Zack Hollis, a former Appalachian State Cross Country runner, who currently serves as a cardiac electrophysiology fellow at Johns Hopkins University for a campus lecture titled, Cardiac Disease and Sudden Cardia Arrest: Prevention, Response, and Recovery. This event is sponsored by the Beaver College of Health Sciences and will include App State students, members of the cardiology team at ARHS, Wake Forest School of Medicine PA students, and other community leaders. Bystander CPR training for the campus community will be made available during a special session inside Plemons Student Union immediately following the lecture.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the Omar Carter Foundation, along with Appalachian Regional Healthcare and the Boone Chamber of Commerce, to participate in the Healthy Heart Collaborative, “said Dr. Marie Huff, Dean of the Beaver College of Health Sciences. “The goal of the Omar Carter Foundation is to provide cardiac education and CPR training to as many people as possible, and it aligns strongly with our mission to enhance the health and quality of life for the individuals and communities that we serve.”

Saturday afternoon, OCF and ARHS will provide bystander CPR training at the Appalachian State Basketball games at the Holmes Convocation Center. In addition to training stations and information tables, many awareness events are planned during the game to further educate the audience on cardiac health topics and create more understanding about the vast array of treatment options available in the local community by ARHS.

“It’s an honor to come back to my alma mater and be able to give back to the community in a way that I wasn’t able to before,” said Carter. “Cardiac disease does not discriminate and it’s important to reach all ages and backgrounds to help educate people on how they can stay healthy and, maybe even more importantly, what to do if they encounter someone going through a cardiac event. I’m happy that we’ve been able to create this partnership with App State and ARHS to bring important information to the community.”

The Omar Carter Foundation creates various events that are community centered and incorporate three areas of focus: education, awareness, and philanthropy. Carter has teamed with Dr. Rohit Mehta, a clinical cardiac electrophysiologist at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute in Charlotte to create the curriculum to help people become better prepared in the case of a sudden cardiac emergency.

If you have questions, please contact the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce at 828-264-2225 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..