Student helps bring heart screenings to Holy Trinity campus


Published:

Holy Trinity sophomore Nina Cinca had a heart transplant two years ago. She can do anything she wants now, including playing the role of Fiona in the school's musical production of “Shrek.” She recently helped the school partner with "Who We Play For" to help provide heart screenings for Holy Trinity students.

photo by Michele Salyer

Nina Cinca is creating her own legacy at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy.

No, it’s not because she’s a great athlete.

And while the sophomore is proving to be quite a talented singer — she played Fiona in the school’s musical production of  “Shrek’’ — we’re not talking about that, either.

What Cinca has brought to Holy Trinity is an awareness of the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — the leading cause of death among young athletes.

Cinca, who received a heart transplant on Sept. 24, 2014 at the age of 13, recently helped Holy Trinity partner with local charity “Who We Play For” to provide voluntary heart screenings for all of the Upper School students.

Though participants were asked to provide a $15 donation, those who could not cover that suggested amount were supplemented by Cinca’s own Team Nina charity, which raised $14,300 during a heart walk last September. That money was donated to “Who We Play For.”

“It totally doesn’t go through people’s minds as the No 1 killer of student athletes,” Cinca said of SCA. “It’s very underrated. I felt like it would be a good thing to bring to people’s attention and kind of put it out there.”

Diagnosed with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy following a wellness checkup at age 7, Cinca was looking for a way to help others. Though she had previously donated to a national foundation, she came upon “Who We Play For,” which is billed as the largest heart-screening non-profit in the country.

The group started in Brevard County following the death of Cocoa Beach High student-athlete Rafe Maccarone. Its mission is to “significantly reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes by providing affordable electrocardiograms (ECGs).”

“After (my) transplant, I wanted to find a new organization that I felt more connected to,” said Cinca, who briefly attended Cocoa Beach before coming to Holy Trinity.

“That’s what really hit me. I was like, ‘Wow, that could happen to anyone. It could happen to people at my school.’ I think that’s why I wanted to help them out.”

It was Cinca who came to Holy Trinity athletic director Scott Crockett with the idea of bringing “Who We Play For” on campus to do heart screenings. That led to a skype interview with the organization.

“I pretty much let her do the talking and she sold it like that,” Crockett said. “I would have bought anything from her that day. She’s that good.”

Crockett said 115 students took part in the heart screenings this year with the majority of students covering — and in many cases exceeding — the suggested donation. The plan is for it to become an annual event.

There also are plans for a third Nina’s Heart Walk in October, where people will not only be able to help raise money for a worthy cause, but they can also purchase Team Nina merchandise such as sunglasses, hand sanitizer, lip balm, shirts, bags, bracelets and stickers.

She also has the understanding that what she is doing now to help her classmates is something that will live on at the school after she graduates.

“It would be a nice legacy to leave,” she said. “Especially (knowing) that I started it. If it keeps on going without me that would be awesome.”