High school baseball player, Johnny Oates, overcame a fatal heart condition.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is hosting the 2019 Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards tonight at the Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Texas.  Two special Virginians will be honored during the ceremony and dinner:  Coach Frank Beamer and standout teen athlete and heart survivor, Johnny Oates, from Chester, Virginia.

Frank Beamer will be in attendance and receive the 2019 Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award.  Beamer coached the Virginia Tech Hokies for 29 years, retiring in 2015.

“I am honored to share my story at the Paul Bear Bryant Awards,” says Oates. “It is so important to raise awareness along with the American Heart Association for all heart related conditions and patients of all ages.”

High School baseball player, Johnny Oates, will also attend and share his story of overcoming a fatal heart condition and fully returning to sports.  Oates was born with a heart defect called  ALCAPA, but it was not detected until age 10.  His left coronary artery was not connected to the aorta and was supplying his heart with deoxygenated blood. He underwent open-heart surgery that same year to correct his heart’s miswiring.

Johnny plays baseball for the Virginia Cardinals showcase team and for his high school, Thomas Dale.  Coincidentally, Beamer and Johnny’s grandfather, who he is named after, attended Virginia Tech at the same time and were acquaintances.  Beamer played for the school’s football team and Johnny Oates played for their baseball team.  Oates went on to play baseball professionally for many years and was the Manager for the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.

Johnny Oates after open-heart surgery.

In addition, the Coach of the Year Award will be announced live that evening, recognizing the country’s top college football coach for his contributions both on and off the field.

The American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards, in its 33nd year, are held in memory of Coach Bryant, who passed away of a heart attack in 1983. Bryant’s coaching career included 323 career wins, six national championships, 29 bowl berths and retirement as college football’s winningest coach. The evening provides an opportunity to celebrate college football’s finest coaches as well as shine a spotlight on heart disease and stroke while raising valuable funds to support research of the American Heart Association.

For more information on the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards visit the website.