We just added another student to Simon’s Club, the Kids’ Stories section of our website. It got me thinking . . . .
Like many of you, I read A Tale of Two Cities in high school. I attended Sycamore High School in Cincinnati. As hard as it is to believe, that was almost 25 years ago. I remember that one of the key elements of this classic is how connected the characters are despite their distance and personal situations. This is story about connection too – that of students of the same high school. However, this connection goes much deeper than alma mater. It is a human connection.
My son, Simon, died in 2005. I was moved to create an organization called Simon’s Fund. The Fund could have been about SIDS because Simon died when he was three months. However, we did lots of research and tests, which led us to the real cause of death – Long QT Syndrome. LQTS is responsible for up to 15% of all SIDS deaths (it’s not just bumpers and back sleeping). I guess all of the times I annoyed my teachers by asking “why” paid off. Simon’s Fund is now an organization to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest in children, primarily through free heart screenings for students.
In 2010, Jose Cerda, a junior at Sycamore was swimming for the Aviators. He collapsed poolside and died. The circumstances surrounding his death are textbook sudden cardiac arrest – a sudden and unexplained collapse immediately after competition. I reached out to Jose’s mother, Luisa, and we decided to bring a heart screening to the students at Sycamore.
I reached out the school board, like I always do, for its support. We needed a location and wanted to promote the screening to the students. They declined. Fortunately, we had found strong partners in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Suburban Pediatrics and the Sycamore swimming community. Working with all the organizations, we promoted the screening and held it at the Mason campus of Cincinnati Children’s.
Matthew Green was one of the eighty-five students that attended the that screening that day. He was a student at Sycamore High School. Matthew discovered a hole in his heart. It has been repaired and he has returned to basketball and diving. Cincinnati Children’s also launched a study about the best ways to conduct heart screenings for students.
I don’t know much about Jose Cerda or Matthew Green. I hope that some day I will know more. However, I know that our lives will be forever connected. For we all have lessons and experiences that we gather during our lifetime. If we learn from them, we are usually better off. But, something truly magical happens when we share our lessons and experience for the benefit of another. That’s what makes life meaningful. That’s the Tale of Three Kiddies.