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Everyday Heroes: Condition cuts high school senior’s dreams short

While Jake Hansel can't play basketball anymore, he still helps his team out at practice. (KATU Photo)

It takes a lot of courage to follow your dream, but as this week’s Everyday Hero shows us, it takes just as much courage to let your dream go.

When he was in the seventh- and eighth-grade, Jake Hansel fell in love with the game of basketball.

He made the varsity basketball team his freshman year at Camas High School and only got better at the game.

“He’s a good point guard,” says Hansel’s teammate Tanner Fogle. “He’s a pass-first point guard, and I love it. And if we need him to score, he can score.”

There were plenty of offers from colleges to go play for them and now during Hansel’s senior year, he’s sidelined.

“When I actually had to stop playing, I was like, wow,” he says. “That’s like one big outlet of my life that was taken from me and I kind of lost.”

Hansel was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in March – an enlarged heart muscle that makes intense sports dangerous.

“It was pretty crushing, I think, for him to have everything he was wrapped up in taken away from him,” says Skyler Gillispie, Hansel’s coach.

And Hansel could have taken that heartache and walked away from the team. But he’s still with the team, helping his coach make the other players better during practice. More than that, he’s started fundraising for OHSU’s cardiovascular unit.

“I know that his goal was for this to not happen to anybody else,” says Gillispie. “For this to – for a parent out there to maybe go have their kids screened.”

“I figured the best way for me to get past it is to attack it in a positive way,” Hansel says.

And that’s what makes Hansel our Everyday Hero. The game may be over for him, but he’s still right there with the assist.

“I could look at it as, oh, this is so unfair that this happened to me. Or, oh, woe is me. But, you know, the thing is I’m still healthy,” he says.

Hansel’s got a big fundraiser coming up at Camas’ home game Thursday, Jan. 17.

Click here for more details.

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