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MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A 17-year-old Bartlett High School cross country runner is recovering in Florida after undergoing emergency heart surgery.

Kris Harman, boys coach for Bartlett Cross Country and Track, said aside from the normal exhaustion, something just wasn’t right with Gabe Higginbottom after competing Saturday in Pensacola, Florida.

“He started complaining about his chest hurting and kept complaining and we went to the trainer’s tent…everybody initially thinks it’s hot, it’s heat exhaustion so give him ice but he’s still complaining about his chest,” Harman said.

Gabe eventually wound up being transported to a heart and vascular hospital five hours away in Gainsville for what Harman was told was a three-hour emergency heart surgery.

“…figured out that he had an artery blocked, fixed it. Now, they’re just trying to figure out what caused it,” Harman said.

Gabe is recovering but news of what happened came like a bolt out of the blue to teammates and supporters like Joe Moore, Treasurer of the Bartlett Boys Cross Country Booster Club.

“They’re cross country runners so these guys are slim, trim, they’re fit and so to see there was something there kind of shocked everybody,” Moore said.

Moore’s 16-year-old son Andrew is on the team with Gabe and Moore said what happened will now make him take a closer look at his son’s condition after he crosses the finish line.

“But now it may be a little more of looking, watching them just a little bit closer, seeing if there’s anything…anything that’s not normal,” he said.

Moore and other supporters immediately took steps to help Gabe and his family through this crisis.

“A few of us got together and decided to do a GoFundMe page. So we started that up and it’s just blossomed from there,” Moore said.

If you would like to donate, click here.

We reached out to Gabe’s mother this morning but she said her son was about to undergo more tests and she didn’t have time to talk.