This is a story of how, in the blink of an eye, your whole life can change forever.
My husband, Phil and I were happily married on September 8, 1984. We had 2 beautiful children. Jason was born on July 19, 1985 and Amy was born on April 6, 1988. Jason was a healthy, athletic young man who loved life. He played all types of sports from the time he was 5 years old. He was a member of the varsity basketball and volleyball teams at Haverford High School. After high school, he played pick-up basketball at Saint Joseph’s University at least 3 times a week. He also enjoyed playing roller hockey, football and baseball.
On March 1, 2006 our life changed forever. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. Jason was out playing roller hockey with his friends the night of February 28. He came home around 11:00 p.m., had some Chinese food, chatted with his sister and me, and then went to bed. His alarm went off around 7:30 a.m. on March 1. I thought, “that’s funny, he usually jumps up out of bed and hits the snooze button,” but this day the alarm kept going off. I went into his room to wake him for school. What I found, no mother should ever have to see. Jason had passed away in his sleep apparently of an undetected heart condition.
I didn’t know what to do. I was so stricken with grief. I called 911, woke Amy up, and we waited for the paramedics to arrive. The police arrived first and made us stay downstairs. They came right back down and confirmed that he was, in fact, gone. Amy called my husband and asked him to come home right away, but didn’t tell him what had happened. When he drove down the street and saw the police cars, ambulance and coroner’s van, he knew something bad had happened. A police officer met him in the front yard and told him about Jason. He never was allowed to go up and see him. They treated it like a crime scene. No one was allowed upstairs. The coroner’s assistant asked us a lot of questions about Jason. Did he drink, smoke, smoke pot, use drugs, etc. She said they would be doing a toxicology screening and a full autopsy. We waited for the toxicology results and they were found to be negative.
Then, we waited almost 3 months for the final autopsy results after many phone calls to the coroner’s office. Apparently, the coroner sent pieces of Jason’s heart to labs around the country for testing. He never did find anything concrete, but came to the conclusion that Jason died of an undetected heart condition.
He also suggested that my husband, daughter and myself get tested for LQT Syndrome. In July of 2006, we went through cardiac testing. Amy and I passed our tests with flying colors. Phil, on the other hand, didn’t do well on his stress test. His cardiologist suggested that he have a cardiac catheterization just as a precaution. Of course, during this procedure, they found that one of his arteries was 70% blocked and he had a stent inserted. Who knew that someone at the age of 45 with no health problems whatsoever would need a stent and be in a position to have a heart attack. I feel like Jason saved his father’s life.
In August of 2006, Phil heard about the American Heart Association Heart Walk that was occurring in September. We decided that this is what we should do. We formed Team Jay and were surprised that we had about 20 friends and family members come out and walk with us in that short of time.
We now participate in the Heart Walk every year (our team grows every year) and have raised over $10,000 since 2006. While nothing can fill the void caused by Jason’s untimely passing, we want people to realize that heart problems are not just for older people, everyone is at risk, even the most youthful and energetic.
In 2007, we also decided to create a nonprofit corporation in Jason’s memory for awarding scholarships to promising local area high school students – The Jason Crawford Memorial Fund. We awarded our first scholarship in 2008 and since then have awarded 2 additional scholarships. We have held multiple fundraisers, including golf tournaments and a beef-n-beer benefit – raising much needed money to grow the Fund. The support that we receive is tremendous and overwhelming.
Also, in March of 2008, we welcomed our first grandchild, Caiden Michael, born on March 15. His mother Amy is a wonderful mother and Caiden is the joy of our lives. Talk about the circle of life!
This story just goes to show that, in the blink of an eye, your whole life can change forever.