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North Rowan student given school board Courage Award

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — North Rowan High School senior Henderson Lentz was honored Monday for his triumph over death and his fight to save others.

Lentz was awarded the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education Courage Award on Monday night at the board’s monthly business meeting. He also has been named a semi-finalist for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Board member Dean Hunter presented the award and shared Lentz’s story.

On June 16, 2015, Lentz was playing basketball with his North Rowan teammates at a camp held at Catawba College when he collapsed. Just a junior in high school, Lentz went into cardiac arrest.

“Henderson essentially died on the court floor for approximately 12 minutes,” Hunter said.

His coaches, teammates and trainers from Catawba performed CPR for roughly nine minutes before he was finally resuscitated by a shock from an automated external defibrillator.

For the next six months, Lentz spent his time in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, undergoing five heart surgeries. He had an internal cardiac defibrillator implanted, and his heart was shocked and restarted three times before December.

In January, he was cleared to return to class and play basketball. Doctors said there appeared to be no lasting damage and no signs of cardiovascular disease.

Since then, Lentz has made it his mission to educate students and families about heart health and CPR and to provide defibrillators for local schools and sports teams. He started the hashtag #justkeepdribbling to raise awareness of CPR and defibrillators and started the organization Hendo’s Hope to raise money for defibrillators and to provide hands-on CPR training.

Since he started Hendo’s Hope, Lentz has purchased an automated external defibrillator for North Rowan High Schoo, and is preparing to purchase one for his team. Over the past two years, he has spoken at more than 45 functions in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Lentz will begin studying at Catawba this fall and will also play basketball. He plans to host more “healthy heart” events to purchase defibrillators for local schools and sports teams and wants to host a heart screening for athletes.

“For the courage you have shown over the last two years, and especially in the face of death itself, and in appreciation for your service to the students and families of Rowan County, for your many efforts to offer CPR and aid awareness, we would like to present you with the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education Courage Award,” Hunter said.

In April, Lentz was named a semifinalist for the U.S. Presidential Scholars program. He is one of 722 semifinalists chosen from out of more than 5,100 applicants.

According to a news release, selection for the program is one of the highest honors a high school senior can receive. Students are selected based on academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in schools and communities.

Lentz, however, was not selected as a program finalist.

As many as 161 finalists are chosen each year and are invited to Washington in June to participate in activities and  receive the Presidential Scholar medallion at a White House-sponsored ceremony.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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