• Sunday , 18 February 2018

Simon’s Soiree, a Heartfelt Evening for a Great Cause at Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel

Story, photos by Jill Beckel

This year’s Simon’s Soiree was an elegant, heartfelt affair. The soiree is held annually to benefit Simon’s Fund and this year’s 8th Simon’s Soiree was held at the Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel in February. Simon’s Fund aims to provide free heart screenings at schools and raise awareness for undiagnosed heart conditions. Per their website, “The organization provides free heart screenings to children, advocates for life-saving legislation, hosts awareness events, and promotes research. Its mission is to save a child’s life… and then another, by raising awareness of conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death.”

The evening opened with a cocktail hour and open auction with all proceeds earned going to Simon’s Fund. Then, we moved into the ballroom. Ducis Rodgers, ABC Action News Sports Director, was the host for the evening’s presentation. Jennifer won an award for helping organize more heart screenings in her community. Brandon, a local student, sponsored a “Checkmate for Check Hearts” event with six student ambassadors to raise awareness at their schools. Then, for the tear-jerker moment of the night, the Sudmans took the stage to talk about their son that they had lost, Simon Sudman. Simon’s Fund is named after Simon, a baby who passed away because of an undiagnosed heart condition. “In 2004, a little boy named Simon Sudman was born. He weighed almost seven pounds and had an APGAR score of eight and nine. He was 50% for weight and 25% for height. Every few hours, he’d finish a bottle (except for a four-hour stretch overnight).

At seven weeks, Simon smiled for the first time. He died 47 days later.

Simon Sudman seemed to be healthy and normal. However, his little heart had an unknown defect called Long QT Syndrome, an arrhythmia.

His parents never heard of this condition. No one told them that it was responsible for up to 15% of all SIDS deaths. Simon was one of thousands of kids to die of sudden cardiac arrest in 2005. Some were babies and others were high school athletes.

After being encouraged by their pediatrician to get their hearts checked, Phyllis, Simon’s mother, learned that she also had the condition. Not wanting another parent to lose a child to a detectable heart condition, the Sudmans founded Simon’s Fund as a 501(c)(3) organization. It is dedicated to raising awareness about the conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death in young athletes and children.”

Simon’s loving parents showed many photos of his short, but happy life as a baby and talked about all the joy that he brought them. It has been 12 years since Simon has passed and he would have been a sixth grader today. The Sudmans are passionate about helping as many children as possible get heart screenings to prevent the devastating loss that they had to.

The presentation was followed by a lovely dinner with various buffet stations, a live band and even some dancing! It was truly a heartfelt evening for a great cause.

To stay up to date about Simon’s Fund news, please follow their Facebook page. And please consider donating by clicking here.

Some sports memorabilia available for auction.

Some autographed sports jerseys and gear available for auction.

There were a variety of cheeses, fruit, dumplings and more to keep the munchies away.

People chatting over cocktails.

We had a lovely chat with Beth Strimel and Dr. William Strimel, DO‎. Bill is a local cardiologist at Mercy Health.

A lovely (get it?) decorated arch made for the perfect photo op spot.

Some other auction items included make-up, spa gift cards and more.

Another auction table. All proceeds went to Simon’s Fund.

Another photo op spot.

Ducis Rodgers, ABC Action News Sports Director, was the host for the evening.

The Simon’s Fund logo and motto – “Checking Hearts, Saving Lives.”

Simon’s Fund is named after Simon Sudman (shown here).

The Sudmans, proud parents of Simon, talk about his short life and how it inspired them to start Simon’s Fund so no other parent would have to go through what they did.

A table displaying various items up for auction. All proceeds benefited Simon’s Fund.

Valentine’s Day themed centerpieces matched the red theme.

I chowed down on some Caesar salad, fried rice and tortellini first.

The Mexican food station was a hit! Nachos, tacos and more!

Everyone enjoying dinner.

The Asian-inspired station had fried rice, noodles, egg rolls and more.

The band kept the vibe fun and upbeat.

The dessert table and coffee kept everyone caffeinated and happy.

The Sudmans announcing the raffle winner.

Guests shaking their groove thang on the dance floor!

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