EADS, Tenn. — Intercepting a football and running it back for a touchdown in front of family, friends, and fans can get anyone’s heart pumping, but it could have made Andrew Foster’s heart stop.
“I remember just being in the waiting room and holding my mom as she cried, and that’s when it hit me that wow, this is really big,” said Foster.
At just 15 years old, the honor student and Briarcrest student body president found out he was born with a deadly heart defect that could have killed him at any moment.
Foster is a big athlete. He plays football, baseball and even runs track, so he works out a lot.
As Foster gained more muscle and got bigger, he started to get dizzy, nauseous and even physically sick during workouts.
“Turns out that every time I was throwing up after workouts were mini-heart attacks and my heart was actually preparing for one big one,” said Foster.
Like so many families, Foster and his parents never knew he had a heart problem.
Usually by the time you find out, it’s too late because there are no obvious symptoms.
Andrew’s mother Cindy believes his unusual symptoms were actually blessings.
“There was a reason for him to still be here. So I don`t know if this is a platform for him to do something big for God`s glory, but I think he does that every day anyway,” said Cindy Foster.
“The first thought is how can this be, but you`re just in shock so you don’t even know how to react,” said Andrew.
Foster was rushed into open heart surgery and had to spend the next few weeks on the couch, but just six weeks after his chest was split open, he was back in the weight room.
Foster credits football for helping him bounce back so fast.
“It gave me a tangible goal. It was like I want to train this summer, play next fall, and I want to be right back to where I was and I want to be better,” said Foster.
For Foster’s family, the harrowing ordeal of nearly losing a son, and such a bright light in their lives, brought them closer together and grew their faith.
“It’s during those times after you freak out that you say OK, well, I’m going to trust the doctors and lean on the Lord to see what lessons we can learn from this,” said Foster.
A second chance at life isn’t very common, and Andrew isn’t wasting it.
He hopes his journey will inspire everyone around him.
“The prospective that it gave me helped me realize you should seize every opportunity, and I`ve lived with that more on a daily basis of every opportunity that presents itself take it. If there is a chance to lead take it. Take a chance to step out and say what you believe or just go and do. And that was a big thing, stop being complacent in life,” said Foster.
Now that he’s “turned the tassel,” Briarcrest’s golden boy is heading to Notre Dame.
He turned down football offers and even opportunities at Ivy League schools because he believes Notre Dame is the right fit and will help him change the world and make the most of his miracle.
“I’ve got a purpose for being here, and I don’t want to take any day for granted and the fragility of life is so clear. It can be taken away in an instance,” said Foster.