TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News) – A Florida high school football player who died of heatstroke at practice is the driving force behind legislation aiming to prevent heat illness for high school athletes.
The charge for change is being led by the player’s mother.
At 6’4” Zachary Martin was nicknamed the ‘Gentle Giant’ by his Riverdale Raiders teammates.
During a high school football conditioning practice in 2017, Martin suffered a heatstroke.
His mother Laurie Giordano was at his side until he passed away.
“It broke my heart, but it also motivated me to start trying to make changes,” said Giordano.
Those changes come in the form of a bill that would require all Florida high schools have a cold water immersion tank on hand during hot practices and games.
“Heatstroke is not only 100 percent preventable, but also there has been a 100 percent survivability [rate] if that person is put into a cold water immersion tub within the first ten minutes,” said Giordano.
She told her story in the bill’s final Senate committee stop.
“Zach Martin is a protector. It is why he was a great offensive lineman for his football team and it is what made him a loyal friend, brother and son. If he had survived, he would be speaking to you today,” said Giordano.
Before it passed, the bill was amended and named the “Zachary Martin Act”.
The House already has passed the bill and the full Senate is expected to do the same in the coming days.
The Zachary Martin Foundation has donated 35 cold water immersion tanks to Florida High Schools.
The organization plans to continue its efforts to help every school acquire a life-saving safety feature.
Giordano said she’s also working with the state’s US Representatives and Senators in hopes of passing similar legislation nationwide.