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Death of 13-year-old baseball player raises awareness of sudden cardiac arrest

NORTH WALES, Pa. — “We think Jayden is special. But seeing that he’s special to everyone is really overwhelming,” said Ashley Rodriguez.

Ashley and her husband, Joshua, are mourning the loss of their only child, Jayden. The 13-year-old died suddenly on January 17, 2021.

“Jayden had a congenital heart condition that we didn’t know about,” Ashley said. “He was a healthy, athletic boy and he just didn’t wake up one morning.”

Just before the new year, Jayden enjoyed playing four months of baseball with the Nor-Gwyn Baseball Association. There he enjoyed developing relationships with friends like Gavin Rice.

“He brought out the best in people. He changed people,” the Grade 8 student said. “I play my best for him, and I do everything the best I can for him.”

The Rodriguez family has received tremendous support from their community. This included a connection with Simon’s Heart, a local organization that raises awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and screens athletes in the Greater Philadelphia area.

“One of our top priorities is to get our young people’s hearts checked,” said Jenn Parrado, Executive Director of Simon’s Heart. “And then we also do some really cool things to help people know what to do in a heart emergency.”

For example, the organization attended a baseball event while providing “CPR Jukebox” demonstrations, teaching children how to perform the lifesaving procedure to the beat of popular songs.

“Their foundation is doing something really amazing that I think can help save other children’s lives,” said Ashley Rodriguez. “And they won’t have to go through what we unfortunately have to go through with the loss of Jayden.”

To learn more about Simon’s Heart, visit their website.


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