13-year-old baseball player's passing raises awareness for sudden cardiac arrest

NORTH WALES, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "We, of course, think Jayden special, but to see that he's special to everybody else is really overwhelming" said Ashley Rodriguez.

Ashley and her husband, Joshua, are mourning the loss of their only child, Jayden. The 13-year-old passed away suddenly on January 17, 2021.

"Jayden had a congenital heart condition that we didn't know he had," said Ashley. "He was a healthy, athletic boy and he just didn't wake up one morning."

Just before the new year, Jayden enjoyed playing four months of baseball with the Nor-Gwyn Baseball Association. There, he enjoyed developing relationships with friends like Gavin Rice.

"He brought the best out of people. He changed people," said the 8th-grade student. "I play my best for him, and I do everything just like the best I can for him."

The Rodriguez family received tremendous support from their community. This included a connection with Simon's Heart, a local organization that raises awareness for sudden cardiac arrest and performs screenings on athletes in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

"One of our number one priorities is to get the hearts of our youth checked," said Jenn Parrado, Executive Director of Simon's Heart. "And then we also do some really awesome things to help people learn what to do in case of a heart emergency."

For example, the organization was providing "CPR Jukebox" demonstrations, teaching kids how to perform the life-saving procedure to the beat of popular songs.

"Their foundation is doing something really amazing that I think can help save other children's lives," said Ashley Rodriguez. "And they won't have to go through what we sadly unfortunately have to go through with losing Jayden."

To learn more about Simon's Heart, visit their website.

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