Your gentle touch, your tender care. A smile as bright as sunshine; a heart of no compare.
A spirit that will glow forever, in the memories that we share.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shamefully Overdue Updates.......

Steve here, pinch hitting for Christy.  So you'll have to put up with sub-par writing, bad humor, and the occasional grammatical mistake.  And then I'm going to hit you with more posts to promote upcoming events/initiatives/fundraisers, etc.  You'll deal.....

If we had a dollar for every time we looked at each other and said, "We really need to update the blog," we'd be livin' the life of Reilly.  But, we all know what is paved with good intentions, so we're taking a shot at getting you all caught up on the progress we've made in the last few months.  History nerd that I am, I'll take you through chronologically.

"I'm Just a Bill, Yes I'm Only a Bill......."

Back on November 15th (see, I told you it's been a while), Christy, our friend Kelly Hagelauer and I met with Pennsylvania State Senator Andy Dinniman from Chester County to seek his assistance in a legislative effort to mandate AEDs in all public and private schools in Pennsylvania.  Without getting too far afield, the back story is that in 2001, as part of the national tobacco settlement, Pennsylvania used part of its share of the settlement to offer AEDs to all public schools in PA.  Most took the state up on their offer, but not all did.  And not all those who took the AEDs actually put them out and made them available.  Ugh.

Those AEDs are now 13 years old and are operating on technology that was developed 20 years ago in the mid-1990s.  How many of us are using computers, cell phones, or driving cars from the mid-90s?  You get the picture.  The companies who made those AEDs announced that they are going to stop making parts for those older models, starting next year.  Our law would make schools acquire, actually put out for availability, and maintain modern AEDS to keep our students in the state safe.  New York did this almost ten years ago.  New Jersey did it last year.  Our turn......

Closer to Home......

Four days later, on November 19th, I met with the board of East Brandywine Youth Association (EBYA), our local rec league that offers a whole host of sports for the township's kids.  Aidan played t-ball and had just started soccer with them when he passed away.  Devin has played t-ball, indoor soccer and outdoor soccer with them.  It's a great league, and they invited me to the board meeting to witness the arrival of six AEDs they purchased, three of which they voted that night to donate to the township so the entire public would have access to them.  I informed them that their bold action inspired another local rec league to follow suit and purchase AEDs for their kids.  Hopefully that trend will continue, we'll cover Chester County and move beyond - much further beyond.

Christy and I joined Paul Heinmiller of EBYA about a week later on Tuesday, November 27th to present to the township three AEDs, purchased by EBYA, and three climate-controlled boxes to be externally mounted to house the three AEDs, purchased by the 5K for Aidan J.  Two of the AEDs and cases will be placed at East Brandywine Township Community Park and one will be placed at Spatola Field.  These are the most utilized parks by our community, especially our young athletes.  We were thrilled that the township board, our parks and rec committee, and our youth association were forward-thinking enough to do this before it happened again, and not wait for another tragedy. The story was covered by the "Daily Local," Chester County's local newspaper:

All Hail Penncrest High.......

Several colleagues and the officers of the Class of 2012 at Penncrest, now freshmen in college, coordinated over the fall semester to team up with the 5K for Aidan J. and purchase an AED that will be housed on the second floor of the school, where none currently exists.  This is not to say that Penncrest does not take AEDs seriously.  They already have four in the building, which is awesome, but they are all on the first floor.  Experts say that the goal is, in the event of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), to get to an AED and back to the victim in under two mintues.  If someone, God forbid, collapses on the 2nd floor at PHS, that goal will be more attainable.  Thanks to my colleagues and to the Class of 2012.  They are the reason why Penncrest is the best place in the world to work!

Only in Delco......

Ok, follow this spider web of connections, if you can.  In early December, we got an email from a woman named Monique Dougherty.  She's from Havertown, PA and told us about how her husband, Sean, passed away due to Sudden Cardiac Arrest last March, after being diagnosed with heart disease in February.  Unfortunately, that's why SCA is the number one killer in America.  It can happen due to a variety of causes and can be triggered by other heart ailments.  Or it can come out of nowhere, like it did to Aidan.  Sean was only 38 years old.

I emailed Monique back immediately and we arranged to talk that night.  What started out as an awkward comparison of lost loved ones turned into an hour-long bonding session.  Monique told me that Sean's friends came out of nowhere and from points distant (of course they did, Delco runs deep) to put together a fundraiser in Sean's honor.  Sean has a ton of nieces and nephews whom he adored, so Monique wanted to do something to benefit kids.  She heard about our organization, so she contacted us.

So here's where it starts getting wild.  I asked her how she found out about us.  She told me that one of her good friends from college is also one of her neighbors in Havertown.  That would be Peggy Gionta, sister-in-law of Stephen, who was the best man in our wedding, best friend to me throughout high school and college, godfather to Devin, and "Silly Uncle Stephen" to our boys.  I asked her where the event will be held.  She said, "Where Sean went to grade school - St. Denis."  I almost dropped my phone.  Christy taught there for one year - of course, it was the year she was pregnant with Aidan.  I played baseball with her next door neighbor in Lansdowne, where my grandparents lived for 50 years.  And so on and so on.

Christy told this story to her friend Megan, with whom she bonded after a mutual friend connected them.  Megan lost her son Declan last year to childhood cancer.  Thus the quick bond.  After hearing the story, Megan told Christy that her cousin was one of Sean's best friends growing up and one of the organizers of the fundraiser.  Ridiculous.

Finally, we're telling the whole story to our 5K for Aidan J. board in January and board member and all-around go-getter Jenna Kulp gasps and announces that the contact name on the flier promoting the fundraiser is one of her husband Steve's good friends from their days in Baltimore.  Again, ridiculous.  If we weren't meant to join forces.......

More about the fundraiser in an upcoming post.  SEAN PATRICK'S DAY, March 9th, St. Denis School, Havertown, PA.  You WILL be there......!!!!

We Went to Seattle in January, But Right Before That......

We were at the airport (Christy's birthday weekend!), getting ready to board the plane to the annual Parent Heart Watch Conference in Seattle, when we received an email informing us that the state of Pennsylvania officially approved our application and we are now our own non-profit agency! We've selected the name, "Aidan's Heart Foundation," and we are in the process of filing the appropriate paperwork with the IRS so that we can achieve 501(c)3 status, which enables donations to our organization to be tax-exempt.  We are able to legally accept tax-exempt donations now, though, so if you have any loose change laying around.......just saying.

Some Chowder, a Bit of Fog, and a Lot of Amazing Families......

The Parent Heart Watch Conference has become for us a bit of a family reunion.  The other families are amazing, and inspire us to keep going emotionally and in our efforts.  Parent Heart Watch itself is doing some amazing things; we strongly encourage you to check out their website and see for yourself.  We learned a lot, cried a lot, laughed a lot.  Christy kissed a fish at Pike Place Fish Market.  And I presented on the process of working with PHW in terms of fundraising.  It went well.  People smiled politely.  The local media said something about being incredibly handsome.  Then I read closer and realized they were talking about the waiter. 

It was two days after our return home from Seattle that we went to the AED trainings at Brandywine Wallace Elementary and the East Brandywine Fire House, which Christy posted about last week.

So there you have it - I think.  All that in the midst of the holidays, work, missing Aidan like mad, busy days with a seven-year old, and sleepless nights with a two-year old.  And while clearly we are making progress, and are thrilled about it, all of this takes place with a gaping whole in our souls, for Aidan is always -always- still in our every thought.  The extent to which we miss him knows no bounds.  But you know what helps?  Check in on us.  Talk about him.  Let us know you're thinking about him, too.  Talking about him to us won't upset us, we promise.  We're already there.  Nothing could be more helpful.

Love to all........


  1. Steve, don't ever sell yourself short on writing qualities - you write from your heart and your soul much like Christy. As I read about all the coincidences I just shook my head and as I've said to you personally, "fate maybe, but in my heart there is a higher force and He with Aidan are drawing you all together."
    God Bless and count the Miller's in on June 15th!

  2. We are always thinking about you guys...Megan and Andrew talk about Aidan (and D&Q too) all the time. Lots of love to all of you!

  3. Do you have any more related blogs or ideas related to like your this blog,it will help me in my further research work…Will keep following your blogs…I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing.A very good resource for everybody that wants to read a good blog.
    West Chester Short Sale