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  • Lekesha Benson

It All Started with a Heart

Our heart story is about a bond between two brothers and how it lives on within the NOLA Network.


Many don’t know this, but during his 8th grade physical, the physician expressed some concern wit Jacory's heart. She explained that her concern was due to the fact that it was beating extremely slow and because she heard a faint sound after each beat-something she referred to as a singer. She assured me that it was probably nothing; however, as a precaution, she made a referral for an EKG. The day after the EKG I received an urgent informing me to immediately disallow any and all strenuous activites. "Do not even let him run up the stairs in your home", they said. Now, imagine my concern, being that he and his brother were both at football practice when I received the call. I immediately went to pick him up, spoke to his coach, & brought him home. His reaction was far different from mine. He was furious! “Momma, there’s nothing wrong with me”, he repeatedly said. He was defiant! I woke up for work & he’d gone for a run around the block. Vari was so worried & kept him from being too defiant & running all over the world & secretly spied on him for me. He literally got on his knees & prayed for his brother. He said, “God, let it be me & not my brother. I’ve lived my life, but he’s so young. Let him be ok & I’ll take it for him”. I remember thinking, you sweet dummy, you’re basically the same age. But I said, “Vari, you’re only two years older & I need you BOTH to be ok”. The entire 8th grade held prayer for Cory & the next day at the children’s cardiologist, we found out that the technician had hooked his EKG leads up incorrectly & he had the heart of an elite athlete & marathon runner which was why it was so slow. That football season he went on to break 5 school records while being an honor roll student, (despite having a learning disability). Fast forward to Cory’s senior year, 2 months after moving to transfer schools, while playing basketball on campus with his best friend, Vari’s heart stopped. No one knew why at the time. People thought it was a heart attack, but Sudden Cardiac Arrest is not the same. It was 4 months before we found out what that was and why it occurred, but the day we did, Cory said he‘d always known. He said, "Vari’s heart was always so big. That was how he lived & how he died." Javaris was his brother's keeper. I don’t think God “gave it to him”, but I never forgot that prayer, because that exemplifies who he was. Loving, protective, loyal-a big brother. Through academic struggles & sports accomplishments, he was there cheering his little brother on. So with starting The NOLA Network, his little brother is still running the race. He is his brother’s keeper too. That’s why we chose February to launch-because it is black history month & heart month. And really, it all started with a heart 💜 #nola #finishtherace #llvb #hearthealth #blackhistoryinthemaking

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