Sports for Boys with CCHDs
Tommy Jackley married Stacie Jackley on August 21, 2004. He is the father of two beautiful children. His son, Kellen is 3 years old and was born with a critical congenital heart defect – hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Tommy is also dad to Kaylin, a heart-healthy 5-year-old daughter and older sister to Kellen.
Tommy is an avid sports nut. As a kid growing up, he played soccer, volleyball and basketball. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan. He worked for MLB.com online and now works for The Sports Authority. Tommy oversees their licensed sports drop ship assortment.
Tommy’s hopes Kellen’s heart defect doesn’t prevent him from being able to achieve any athletic goals he makes for himself. He is already playing ball with Tommy. Tommy dreams of the day when perhaps Kellen will be the first HLHS Survivor to be a pro soccer or baseball player.
Richard Utz is a 22 year old with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He has had 3 open-heart surgeries, 2 lung surgeries, and a tracheotomy before he was 5 years old. His surgeries were done in Queens, New York, although he now lives in Massachusetts. Richard celebrated my first birthday in the hospital. His first two surgeries went well, but he spent 10 months in the hospital after his third surgery. He loves sports, especially baseball. When Richard was a teenager, he went to the Madden Open Hearts Camp, which was established in 1960 thanks to the generosity of Edward J. Madden. The camp is a place where young heart patients can enjoy nature, sports and recreation. The sport Richard enjoys most is baseball and the team his father and he cheers for is the NY Mets!
Kenneth Utz is a proud dad to Richard Utz. When Kenneth first heard about Richard being born with a rare heart defect, he felt like he was having a bad dream. It seemed surreal to him. Kenneth quickly realized that the nightmare was real and that he and his family had a lot to deal with.
When Kenneth was younger, he was quite active in basketball and baseball. Despite Richard’s medical condition, Kenneth always shared his love of sports with his son. Today Kenneth think his son might be even more sports-minded than himself!
From an early age, Kenneth realized that Richard wasn’t going to be a star athlete. Kenneth remembers asking the surgeon if the day would come when he would be able to roll a ball to his son on the floor. The surgeon spoke so discouragingly about Richard’s prognosis that even that seemed unlikely.
Richard’s gym classes had to be modified in school but he was able to play Little League for 3 or 4 years. Kenneth even coached Richard for one or two of those years. Richard tried soccer but he never really liked it. Richard’s heart defects prevent him from tolerating extreme temperatures very well and he has limited stamina. Every now and then, Richard and Kenneth catch a Mets game together or toss a ball to one another.
Links Mentioned in Our Show:
http://www.openheartscamp.org/about.html — Open Hearts Camp
http://www.rmhc.org/ronald-mcdonald-house — Ronald McDonald House
http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=phi — the Official Site for the Philadelphia Phillies
http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=nym — the Official Site for the NY Mets