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.