Home Run Straight From The Heart

This story is about a local family, the Silva’s, who lost their 7 year old son Aidan just under 1 year ago.  I’m usually the first one to say that athletes should not be our heroes or role models, mostly because the media is quick to report on their transgressions, while so many of these moments fly under the radar.  Simon’s Fund will be working with the Silva family to provide a free heart screening for the Downingtown community this fall.

Published 5/21/11 in the Daily Times


Occasionally a bond is developed between a fan and an athlete, a relationship that knows no bounds. A fellow Philadelphia-area journalist, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, shared a tale of meeting Harmon Killebrew, who passed away this week, as a boy. Decades after the two met outside the visiting dugout at Fenway Park, the boy-turned-baseball writer asked for a fresh autograph from the ballplayer-turned-Hall of Famer, as the two looked at the originally-autographed ball and shared stories of the past.

Social media connected two others last week: A 14-year-old Cincinnati Reds fan used Twitter to invite All-Star shortstop Brandon Phillips (@datdudebp) to his youth baseball game. Phillips, looking for something to do on his only night off until June 2, showed up and posed for pictures with members of the 14-U Cincinnati Flames.

Aidan Joseph Silva never had the chance to meet Ryan Howard. The seven-year-old boy died of sudden cardiac arrest over Labor Day weekend last summer. But Howard and Silva became connected recently.

Last Friday at Brandywine Wallace Elementary in Downingtown, where Silva had enrolled as a first-grader in August, the school held a dedication ceremony at the school in the boy’s honor. Five maple trees were planted and a plaque, with Aidan Silva’s name, his handprint and a family poem, was encased on a boulder.

Aidan J. Silva

Later, to the surprise of everyone in the school, Howard’s face appeared on a projection screen in the auditorium. Although Howard and the Phillies were in Atlanta, he had a message to deliver via video.

“I’m sorry for the loss of Aidan; I’ve heard he was a very upbeat and spirited kid and I know the loss is hard for everyone,” Howard said on the video. “The tribute you are doing today is awesome. I’m very honored to hear that I was Aidan’s favorite player. When I go out and take the field tonight, he’ll definitely be in my thoughts and prayers, and I’m going to go out there and do the best I can for Aidan.”

“It was really heartfelt,” said Steve Silva, Aidan’s father, who fought back tears throughout the ceremony, which included having Aidan’s five-year-old, younger brother introducing the Phillie Phanatic.


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