Growing up, Joe Meyer loved sports. In elementary school, he played basketball and baseball. The summer before he entered eighth grade, the Jacksonville, Florida, youth decided to give football a try.
Before he took to the gridiron, Joe visited his pediatrician for sports physical. At that appointment, his doctor noticed a heart murmur. Joe, then 14, couldn’t be cleared to play until he went to a cardiologist.
In August 2011, after seeing a pediatric cardiologist and having an echocardiogram and stress test, Joe was diagnosed with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM — an incurable disease, usually caused by gene mutations, in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick.
The diagnosis took Joe away from sports and other physical activity for several years.