When the Mason Bulldogs take the field for Friday night's game against St. Johns Red Wings, some players will be wearing a little extra padding under their pads.
"I'm going to be wearing my shirt under my pads," said Sean Wren, a senior wide receiver on the football team. "I'm sure of that."
The shirt Sean's talking about isn't hard to find in Mason High School's hallways. The school has sold hundreds over the last week. The shirts are being sold to raise money for the American Heart Association. They simply read, "Tackle Heart Disease".
The idea was brought to Mason's Athletic Director, Greg Lattig, by Sheri Liddle with the American Heart Association. Four football teams in Michigan are playing one game this season for the cause of heart disease. This is a pilot program that the AHA could expand going forward. Mason is the first school in the country to participate.
"Mason is the first to have a crack at it," said Liddle. "They're doing an incredible job."
The team took up the cause, making it their goal to save or change one life in their community. Although the original plan was to have the team wear red jerseys, that plan had to be changed.
But even though the red jerseys won't be at Friday's game, fans and their red shirts will be. Coaches are planning on donning the shirts on the sidelines. Cheerleaders will also wear red and have made signs with signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes.
This week has been much more than a fundraiser though. Students, teachers and staff have all taken the issue to heart. Biology teacher Courtney Ford incorporated heart health into her unit this week on homeostasis and overall health.
"It puts the thought in the students' minds that they aren't immune to this and that themselves or their family members will likely be affected," said Ford. "It's always great to see when the students come together for a common cause."
Students throughout the high school say they've learned a lot about heart health.
"Heart attacks in women are somewhat hidden," said Wren. "I never that and getting a lot of this info has helped me with awareness."
"I've been walking around and asking teachers and students do you know the sign and symptoms of a heart attack and they do," said Liddle.
Liddle and Lattig say they're already planning for next year.
If you'd like to learn more about the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes, more information is available at the American Heart Association website (heart.org)