On February 10, 2005, Steven Mark Gootter began his day like any other. He got up early, rounded up the family dog and headed out for a morning jog. That was the last time his wife, their two young children and the rest of his family and friends would see him alive. Steve never came home again - sudden cardiac death had claimed the life of this vibrant, athletic, healthy 42-year-old man. Steve, a non-smoker, had no history of heart disease and no prior warnings of heart failure. Born in New York on May 2, 1962, Steve moved to Tucson with his family at the age of 8. He graduated from Tucson High School and the University of Arizona. A state tennis champion in high school, Steve excelled at sports throughout his life. He possessed an extraordinary zest for life and a legendary sense of humor. A compassionate, generous, fun-loving man, Steve lived every day to the fullest. He was a "people magnet" who was blessed with the gift of making everyone he met feel special.
Steve was an entrepreneur who enjoyed a successful career in real estate, financial planning and mergers and acquisitions. He excelled at fostering his own and others' creative ideas. This passion was reflected in his founding of Journey IPD, an intellectual properties firm that helped inventors and entrepreneurs license, commercialize and protect their ideas. He, himself, held several patents. Products he invented are sold in 27 countries.
Above all, Steve was a devoted family man. The joy of his life was his children; his then five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. He is greatly missed by all who knew him. Steve's untimely death mobilized his family and friends to establish the Steven M. Gootter Foundation with the objective of sparing others the tragedy of losing a loved on to sudden cardiac death.
Though it is the leading cause of natural death in the United States, most people are unaware of the danger sudden cardiac death poses until it strikes close to home. Each year in the United States, more than 335,000 lives are lost to heart disease - more than are lost to breast cancer, lung cancer and AIDS combined . The Steven M. Gootter Foundation is dedicated to defeating sudden cardiac death by supporting increased awareness, education and scientific research.
Andrew is president of Larson Camouflage, LLC, a company that designs and manufactures concealment solutions for wireless antennas throughout the world.
Claudine is Steve Gootter's sister, and dedicates her time and passion to the foundation so that others may be spared the tragic loss of a loved one to SCD.
Rob is a principal of Scotia Group Management, LLC, a Tucson-based property management company specializing in apartment and commercial management.
Steve is president and publisher of Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, a Tucson-based company specializing in legal, medical and forensic resource materials for customers worldwide.
Dana Bradford is the CEO of Waitt Company, an Omaha based investment company. In addition to his duties as CEO, Dana serves as executive chairman of Prince Global Sports and on the boards of Waitt Company, Meritage Homes (NYSE: MTH), Southwest Value Partners, Vornado Air, Customer Service Profiles, Gold Circle Films, and Active Brands Company. Dana earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arizona and a masters in business administration from Creighton University.
Jack G. Copeland, MD
Dr. Copeland is the Co-Founder of SynCardia Systems, Inc. and a Cardiac Surgery Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He is also a former Professor of Surgery, Chief of the Section of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, University of Arizona. He has been practicing cardiothoracic surgery for over 30 years with a focus in cardiac transplantation, artificial hearts and cardiac preservation.
Carol Gregorio, PhD
Carol Gregorio, PhD is Co-Director of the Sarver Heart Center, Director of the Sarver Heart Center's Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program and the Head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona. She runs an active research program that is focused on deciphering the mechanisms of cardiac muscle assembly in health and disease.
Dan Hicks is a sportscaster for NBC and the primary anchor for the NBC weekend sports update program and Olympics coverage. Dan was born and raised in Tucson and attended the University of Arizona.
Fletcher McCusker is Chairman of the Board and CEO of Providence Service Corporation.
James H. Moore Jr.
Jim Moore is President of the University of Arizona Foundation. Jim has had a long career in university fund-raising and asset management.
Robert is a philanthropic business entrepreneur whose generous contributions have helped to make the Sarver Heart Center one of the leading medical institutes dedicated to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Robert Sarver founded the National Bank of Arizona and is the current owner of the Phoenix Suns professional basketball team.
Vincent L. Sorrell, MD
Vincent is Director of Cardiovascular Imaging, Cardiovascular Service Line and Co-Medical Director of Cardiovascular CT/MRI, Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging at the University of Kentucky. His main research interests include creating a database of those at risk for SCD and identifying commonalities through avenues such as MRI images of the heart and genetic screening.
Christine J. Toretti
Christine Toretti, a ground-breaking role model for female CEOs, spends her time leading an Appalachian-based natural gas company and participating in national politics. A classic maven, she enjoys connecting her vast network of friends so they might live their dreams.
In March 2012, after seven years of fundraising, the Gootter Foundation met one of its goals of raising $2 million to establish the Steven M. Gootter Endowed Chair for the Prevention and Treatment of Sudden Cardiac Death at University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.
Dr. Tardiff spent the last 25 years in New York City developing new approaches to alter the natural history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She is now a professor in the UA College of Medicine. The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center’s reputation in heart muscle research was a major draw in her decision to accept the chair. “I am primarily a basic science researcher, specifically a muscle biologist, and the UA—stretching back to Eugene Morkin (a founding co-director of Sarver Heart Center)—always has been known as a stellar center for muscle research. That reputation continues to this day and the opportunity to interact directly with scientists like Carol Gregorio, Henk Granzier and Paul Krieg—to name but a few—was a significant attractant. Cardiac muscle is an inherently difficult system to study and having like-minded colleagues with such varied approaches is a major advantage to any research program,” says Dr. Tardiff, who recently joined the faculty as a professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, and the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the UA College of Medicine, and the BIO5 Institute. Dr. Tardiff’s recruitment was made possible by support from the Steven M. Gootter Foundation and accelerated by a grant from the UA Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). Under the leadership of Fernando D. Martinez, MD, the UA CTSI provides the groundwork for therapeutic medical advances in priority areas, including cardiovascular disease.
“I have tremendous respect for the Gootter Foundation and the work of the UA Sarver Heart Center Resuscitation Research Group. In many ways there is no greater gift than a successful resuscitation or ‘save.’ It gives someone a second chance in a situation where all would be lost. To develop all of these programs, provide AEDs and help broaden the knowledge in the community of the new approach to CPR that was developed at the UA is an incredible accomplishment,” says Dr. Tardiff. “The Gootter Foundation also emphasizes the important and active role that independent foundations and donations can play in furthering health goals. My entire career has been focused on developing new approaches to alter the natural history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The goal is to identify relatives at risk to prevent a cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Tardiff.
Starting her medical career as an endocrinologist, Dr. Tardiff recalls a patient that changed her entire career trajectory. “This patient was resuscitated from a sudden cardiac arrest and turned out to have HCM. Many, many groups have wrestled with the difficulties in linking genotype (genetic makeup) to phenotype (physical characteristics) in the past 20 years and it has become very clear that new, results-oriented approaches are needed, both with respect to bench research and clinical diagnosis,” she says. From the bench research side, these novel experimental methodologies are, by definition, highrisk, meaning that there is no guarantee that they will work at first and often need significant development time. “I have earmarked the proceeds from the Gootter Chair to fund only my most creative and cutting edge work; it is a tremendous advantage for this program,” says Dr. Tardiff.
The Steven M. Gootter Foundation has partnered with the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center in the fight against sudden cardiac death. The Foundation raises funds for an endowed chair for Sudden Cardiac Death at the UA Sarver Heart Center in honor of Steven M. Gootter. The completion of the funds for this program will help to recruit/retain a top-notch faculty member and implement a program focused on sudden cardiac death.
The UA Sarver Heart Center (Center) was founded as the University Heart Center in 1986 under the direction of Drs. Jack G. Copeland and Eugene Morkin with only a few members. In l991, Dr. Gordon A. Ewy was appointed director, and led the campaign to fund a heart center building. Renamed in 1998 in recognition of generous support from the Sarver family, the Sarver Heart Center developed a vision of a future free of heart disease and stroke, with the goal of preventing and curing cardiovascular disease through the academic pillars of research, education and patient care. In the fall of 2000, the UA Sarver Heart Center dedicated its new home, a 30,000-square-foot, three-story addition to the original College of Medicine building that became the administrative “heart” of the Sarver Heart Center.
The Center now is composed of more than 175 physicians and scientists with national and international reputations working on the University of Arizona Health Sciences campuses in Tucson and Phoenix. The Center brings together clinical and basic scientists to work collaboratively to prevent, treat, cure and rehabilitate cardiovascular diseases--the number one cause of mortality in the United States.
Equipped with several state-of-the-art research laboratories, the Center’s major early focus was on the heart transplant and artificial heart programs, resuscitation research and preventing congenital heart abnormalities through research and development. Increasingly, emphasis has grown with basic science researchers who developed the Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program. Housed in the UA College of Medicine’s Medical Research Building, under the leadership of Carol Gregorio, Ph.D., a co-director of the Sarver Heart Center, basic scientists are studying the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease with the goal of developing new preventive and therapeutic approaches.
The UA Sarver Heart Center has several focus areas, including Cardiocerebral Resuscitation, molecular and cellular biology, physiology and pathology of microvascular and vascular circulation, heart failure, congenital heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac transplantation and artificial heart, cardiovascular disease in specific populations, such as Native, Hispanic and African Americans, women and the elderly, and prevention, cure and rehabilitation.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, life expectancy increased about seven years since 1960, and 50 percent of this increase was attributed to improved health care. Of that, about 70 percent of the longevity gain attributed to health care was due to advances in the fight against cardiovascular disease. The UA Sarver Heart Center has contributed to this progress.
Here are some of the firsts from UA Sarver Heart Center:
The Steven M. Gootter Foundation is able to fund sudden cardiac death research projects at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center thanks to the support of our donors. Because of their generosity, we will make strides towards our goal of defeating sudden cardiac death through increased awareness, education and scientific research.
"We cannot begin to express our thanks to you and your Foundation for making it possible for San Miguel High School to be equipped with, trained on, our very own automated external defibrillator. It is a gift we hope to never have to use, but find comfort in knowing that we have this life saving machine at arms length. Your support of San Miguel High School is very much appreciated and we are humbled that you have made this available to us."
Leslie Shultz-Crist, President and Br. Nick Gonzales, FSC, Principal – San Miguel High School
"Our heartfelt thanks to you and your associates for the gift of the automated external defibrillator (AED) to St. Frances Cabrini. We have our share of older people among the 2,000 members of our parish. But I know the AED is meant for people of all ages. It is with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction as we determine placement and proceed with training. In the name of our whole community, I express deepest gratitude for this outstanding gift."
Msgr. Robert D. Fuller - St. Frances Cabrini Parish
"The purpose of this letter is to extend to you our deep appreciation for your donation of an AED device to Sunrise Drive Elementary School. We are very grateful not only for your generosity, but for increasing the likelihood of saving someones life who needs immediate assistance while on our campus."
Julie A. Sherrill, Ph.D., Principal – Sunrise Drive Elementary School
"Having the ability to possibly save the lives of our theater patrons who are at risk for sudden cardiac death is of crucial benefit and we are very happy to help further the mission of the Steven M. Gootter Foundation. Thank you for your generous support to our organization and for your commitment to the community."
Clyde W. Kunz, CFRE, Chief Development Officer - Arizona Theater Company
"It is so wonderful to have the AED on property. I now have peace of mind that I have the right equipment on hand in the Nurses office with the number of students and staff in our school. I appreciate everything the Gootter Foundation has done to facilitate getting us our AED."
Margaret Eller, RN (School Nurse) - Sunnyside Unified School District
"The AED donated by the Gootter Foundation is the first line of defense with with any cardiac problem. Specifically, the first AED was a stepping stone. Receiving it at my High School made others aware and we were able to apply to the school for funding to get another one. Additionally, the two other High Schools in the district were able to get approval for AED. The Gootter Foundation opened the door, increased awareness and made the community receptive and supportive of our need to be prepared."
Juan F. Prieto, Head Athletic Trainer - Amphitheater Public Schools