A Broken Heart, a New Future

2016 Weigel Medical School Scholarship Winner - Brittan Sutphin

Brittan Sutphin is a 2010 Most Valuable Student scholar, sponsored by Lakewood, Colo., Lodge No. 1777. She studied Biochemistry at Claremont McKenna College and is now returning to Colorado to study at Colorado School of Medicine, specializing in cardiology.

Despite succeeding academically, pursuing research fellowships, and being published in academic journals, Brittan’s concentration in cardiology goes far beyond academic interest and stems from a deeply personal and life-changing experience.

At age 16, after years of athletic competition and dreams of playing tennis at the collegiate level, Brittan suffered Sudden Cardiac Arrest at a swim meet. After several failed attempts to revive her through CPR, she was finally revived with two shocks from an Automated External Defibrillator. After medical treatment, Brittan was diagnosed with a genetic heart arrhythmia and was told she would have to live a sedentary life without athletics.

“I was told I was a ticking time bomb that could go off at any moment,” Brittan recalls. “I was confused, angry and sad; but I was alive. I had been given a second chance.”

After her life-changing experience, Brittan took her second chance at life to save the lives of others. Her own experience made her realize the lack of AEDs in many recreational facilities and the many young people who die from undetected heart conditions. She co-founded a nonprofit, Athletes Saving Athletes, which trains athletes to be first responders for sudden cardiac arrest, head injury and stroke. Through her organization, Brittan has developed educational and training programs for high school students throughout the country, and her educational efforts have directly saved the lives of three individuals.

Thanks to her resiliency and volunteer efforts, Brittan has spread hope to others throughout the nation by speaking at conferences and offering her story of inspiration. These experiences solidified her desire to be a physician.

“My experience developed into a story of inspiration, and my message expanded to larger audiences,” says Brittan. “My full capacity to engage in all activities has brought hope to others struggling with a terrible diagnosis. I want to help find better answers and treatment for people with congenital heart conditions.”

Besides her own past medical experiences that have defined her passions, Brittan is thankful for the support of the Elks that will define her future.

“A broken heart was the key to unlocking and defining my future,” says Brittan. “Having the Elks National Foundation invest in me will only push me further toward my dreams of becoming one of the nation’s top cardiologists.”

After losing her husband, Gunther, to a staph infection in November 2009, the late Lee Weigel wanted to improve the quality of healthcare in our country. To realize that goal, she partnered with the Elks National Foundation to endow the Gunther and Lee Weigel Medical School Scholarship, which helps Elks scholars pursue careers in medicine.

For more information about our scholarship programs, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.

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