WAUKESHA — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Assembly Bill 82, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 210, which requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to work with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) and two pediatric cardiologists to develop and distribute information on the nature and risks of sudden cardiac arrest at school athletic events.

Assembly Bill 82 was introduced in honor of Kai Lermer, a 16-year-old student athlete at Waukesha North High School, who tragically passed away in 2019 after going into cardiac arrest while playing basketball due to an undiagnosed heart condition. The governor signed the bill today at Waukesha North High School where he was joined by Kai’s family, friends, and loved ones.

“Youth athletics play such an important role in the health, wellness, and academic success of young people across our state,” said Gov. Evers. “But much like concussions and head injuries, it is vital that parents and students understand the risks associated and are empowered to make the best decisions for their health. I share my deepest condolences with the Lermer family and the entire Waukesha community. Kai was a young man full of potential who was taken from us far too soon and there are no words to express this loss. I am glad to be signing this bill today to turn this tragedy into an action that could save lives, and I commend his parents for all their hard work to raise awareness for this important issue.”

“Kai’s loss was devastating to our family, friends, and the Waukesha community. We know signing AB82 into law will save countless young adults’ lives here in Wisconsin,” said Mike Lermer, Kai’s father.  “Sudden cardiac arrest education is the first step in preventing a similar tragedy from impacting another family and community. We are hopeful that AB82 drives parents, guardians, and student athletes to get an EKG test completed prior to playing sports. #FlyHighKai.”

A football, basketball, and track athlete, Kai never showed signs of a heart condition. However, an electrocardiogram (EKG) test could have discovered the condition, which would have allowed Kai and his family to take life-saving precautions. This bill would specifically require DPI to include information on the risks of continuing athletic activity after experiencing sudden cardiac arrest symptoms; the potential risks, benefits and evidence for EKG testing; and how to request an EKG from a student’s healthcare provider. The information sheet would be distributed to participants in youth athletics offered to persons 12 years and older to help young people and their parents take action to understand a student’s heart health prior to participating in youth athletics, much like information that is already provided for the risk of concussions and head injuries under current law.

According to Mayo Clinic, while millions of student athletes compete every year without incident and most deaths are in older adults, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes and is most often due to a heart abnormality. As of 2019, Mayo Clinic estimated 1 in every 50,000 sudden cardiac deaths a year occurs in young athletes.

Assembly Bill 82, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 210:  

  • Requires the Department of Public Instruction consult with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) and two pediatric cardiologists to create an information sheet on the nature and risks of sudden cardiac arrest at school athletic events. 
An online version of this release is available here.
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