Fresh off their dominating victory over the Montana State Bobcats, the Montana Lady Griz team visited the Community Medical Center in Missoula Monday afternoon.

February is American Heart Health Month - "a time when all people -especially women- are encouraged to focus on their cardiovascular health," per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It especially hits home with the Lady Griz and one of their teammates.

"This is pretty close to us just because one of our teammates, Keeli Burton-Oliver, she has some heart issues that she has shared with us, shared with the community a little bit. So this is a good way for us to connect with the community," said Lady Griz Senior Carmen Gfeller.

Keeli's story

Going into her freshman year of college, Burton-Oliver discovered she had a diagnosis called "left ventricular noncompaction." Burton-Oliver described it, in a video last year, as a condition when your left ventricular "doesn't compact as much as it needs to."

Since then, Burton-Oliver has integrated herself with the American Heart Association (AAH) by raising awareness and even getting the opportunity to keynote speak at an AAH event last year.

The entire Lady Griz team kept the awareness train rolling on Monday when they visited those recovering from heart-related injuries or conditions. It was an important reminder to players like Gfeller, who may be in robust physical condition, to never take your heart health for granted.

Importance of heart health

"You know, I think physical health is definitely something that we all take for granted, probably. As athletes, we've definitely conditioned ourselves, pushed ourselves to our limits. It's a special opportunity to be able to do that and I don't want people to forget that. This is a really great way to remind everybody that don't take your health for granted and embrace every opportunity you have to enjoy your health."

Credit: Peter Christian
Members of the Lady Griz meet with patients at Credit: Peter Christian

Gfeller went on to share her opinion that heart problems affect a lot of people, more than we realize.

"I think heart conditions affect a lot more people than we realize. I know our head coach lost somebody very near and ear to him due to a heart condition. We have Keely on our team who's spoken about her experience... Health is not something to mess around with."

On top of the reminders, it was an opportunity for the Lady Griz to spend time with patients recovering from a variety of health complications. Sources say some art was created and some shots were taken.

Sources did not say who had the most artistic talent out of the bunch...

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