We are so grateful to the almost 400 people that attended Simon’s Soiree, and for the many more who were “with us” from distant places. Here are the remarks that we shared.
We have a few thoughts to share tonight, but we are standing up here really just say thank you. This organization started because of Simon but it is still here . . . checking hearts and saving lives because of you. Your volunteer hours. Your financial investment. Your commitment to heart screenings and on a personal level, your friendship and support. We should also note that this event would not have been possible without the work of so many people, but particularly, Jill Deeves (Happy Birthday), Dorothy Wilson and Danielle Nurick. You can find the names of all of the volunteers in the Program Book.
So again . . . thank you . . . all of you.
Simon would have been nine years old and in the third grade today. We can never know what Simon would have become. We can only be a part of what he’s left behind.
I remember sitting with some of you in our basement trying to figure out our path, and capture the essence of our organization . . . in one sentence. You know, defining our mission. At that point, we were guessing. We could only imagine what we might do and what kind of impact we could have.
Looking back, we just wanted to create something that would prevent other parents from losing a child to sudden cardiac arrest.
We could screen students. We could place AEDs in facilities. We could fund research. We could educate the community. We could pass laws. The ideas came easy. In fact, they have filled a really big imaginary bookshelf for years.
In that first year, we held one heart screening for 80 kids on the tabletops at the World Café Live. Last year, we held eight heart screenings in three states.
During those first few years, we worked with two physicians from one hospital. Today, we have a network of over forty doctors representing Abington, Jefferson, Einstein, St. Christopher’s, Nemours (DuPont), Lakenau, Bryn Mawr and Temple . . . and many of you are here tonight.
Partnering with professional athletes was a dream. Launching Screen Across America, a website designed to foster collaboration and raise awareness about the availability of youth heart screenings in this country . . . . who even knew that there were other organizations out there? Getting a law introduced in seven states . . . yeah right.
At that gathering nine years ago, we just wanted to save the life of one child . . . and hopefully another . . . by raising awareness about conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death. That was our aspiration.
We’ve generated the ideas. Your generosity has made them a reality.
We have two big ideas in the works for the coming year. We want to establish the first Youth EKG Registry in this country so that researchers will have data. The medical community shouldn’t decide policy about the benefits of heart screenings like the personalities on NFL Primetime decide the best football team. They need data, and this registry is going to provide that.
We also want to launch an inner city school district screening program for Philadelphia, Wilmington and Camden, where our mobile screening unit will move from high school to high school each week for one year. We will be able to screen tens of thousands of students. For many of those students, that may be the best and only check up they’ve ever had.
So as we continue this journey together, we want to thank you for what we’ve accomplished, and invite you to help us finish the job. Let’s make heart screenings a standard of care in this country for our children.
Please continue to volunteer your time. Tell people that sudden cardiac arrest isn’t just an adult thing. Attend our events: the Soiree, Simon Says Run and our newest event this July, Simon Says Golf. Bring a heart screening to your school. And please . . . continue to generously invest in our vision.
This book started as a tragedy, but together we’ve turned it around. Every chapter written since is about kids like Kyle and Katie and Melissa and Alaysia and their families who are safer and happier because of Simon’s Fund.
Help us continue the legacy of that little boy, our son, Simon. Help us check hearts, pass laws and save lives.