News Releases

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not a coincidence, truly a miracle

Have you ever had something happen and look back on it and know it wasn’t a coincidence? My husband Ben, was coaching our girls’ softball game and halfway through the game he received two phone calls back to back from his brother and a text message. Ben knew it wasn't good when his brother kept calling. When he answered, his brother told him his dad had just suffered sudden cardiac arrest and was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance.

We are only two hours away from where they live, so we immediately we left the game to go to the hospital where his dad was taken. Needless to say, my husband and I and our two girls were in shock. The only thing we could do was pray and ask others to pray.

Prayers started being answered as we travelled south in our van to Fort Myers getting positive updates from family along the way. When we got to the hospital, my father-in-law, Tom was in the intensive care unit (ICU). It was late, after hours, but we were able to see him. It just so happens the hospital my husband's dad was taken to was the one my sister-in-law works at as an emergency room nurse, so she got us right in.

When we saw him, he was doing OK. He was alive and talking. We were so happy to be there and see him. It was a relief. But he wasn't out of the woods yet. The doctors had to figure out why he had no symptoms and collapsed.

During the next week, he would undergo several tests. The first test showed his arteries were blocked including the anterior interventricular branch of the left coronary artery known as the widow maker artery and he needed six stents put in. A few days later another test showed he needed to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) put in.

As the week went by, we learned more and more about the people involved in saving his life and more details of what happened and how things weren’t a coincidence.

For years, my husband's dad who is 71 years-old, has been playing indoor racquetball at a local country club with a group of friends.

That night during one of the games, his friends told us all of the sudden my father-in-law slid down the wall like you would see in a cartoon.  He didn’t respond, wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, which would indicate cardiac arrest.

Immediately, one of his friends started cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, while the others called 911 for help and ran to get the club's automated external defibrillator (AED). Within minutes the paramedics were there along with Lee County's EMS deputy chief of training and a Lee County Sheriff's deputy.  They happened to be in the area when they heard the call go out on a scanner.
Here's where the story gets interesting. The man who performed the CPR, had just learned how to do CPR during a dinner party two weeks prior from one of the racquetball friends, who happens to be a doctor.  He out of the blue asked the doctor to show him because he didn't know how to do it. The doctor told him to push down in the center of the chest and do 100 compressions per minute. Little did he know two weeks later he would save his friend's life.

The CPR wasn't enough to get him breathing again, so they needed to shock him with an AED.  Not all places have an AED and if there wasn't one there, I would be sharing a very different story.  I never realized until this happened how important it is to have a defibrillator.  It saved my father-in-law's life. I now know more about defibrillators and why public places especially sporting facilities need them. They aren't cheap costing about $1600, but the price is no comparison to a life.

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, when a person suffers SCA the first three to five minutes after a person collapses are crucial in saving the person's life.   Statistics show nine out of ten people who suffer from SCA die. Those who survive usually have some sort of brain damage. My father-in-law is alive and doesn't have any complications. Truly a miracle.

The doctors at the hospital were amazed to see how well my father-in-law was doing and told us he was a lucky man and yes, he is a walking miracle. It’s not too often doctors see someone in as good of condition after having SCA.

Everything worked like clockwork. The fire station was only a few blocks away, so they were there in minutes. Somehow even though my father-in-law was in and out of consciousness, the EMS deputy chief could talk to him and get my mother-in-law’s phone number. She was able to be at the hospital in minutes.

My father-in-law’s near-death experience made me realize just how important CPR is and why public places should have AED’s. My father-in-law wouldn't be here today, if it weren’t for his friend knowing CPR, the facility having a AED and the power of prayer.

Additional Information and Websites:

For more information about Sudden Cardiac Arrest visit Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

If you would like to find out place to learn CPR visit American Red Cross, Suncoast Safety Council, or In-Pulse CPR.

In Pinellas County, FL there is a class on August 9, 2017 at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL.  It is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can register by calling 1.855.422.3338 or click here to go to their website .

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mini Vacation in Orlando at Gaylord Palms

Family time at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando.
The glass atrium view from the room
What a great time our family had enjoying SummerFest at Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida this summer. We had the pleasure of staying two nights at this beautiful hotel during Father's Day weekend.
The resort has a phenomenal 4.5 acre glass atrium with some of the best gardens and landscaping I have seen. If you can get a room with an atrium view it really is worth it. Having coffee in the morning on the balcony overlooking the atrium was so peaceful and relaxing. A great way to start a morning!

Enjoying dinner at the Moor Restaurant,
On our first night we explored the resort deciding to have dinner at the Moor, which is a restaurant inside the hotel with an indoor saltwater lagoon. 

Rock n' Roll Never Dies
Ghost Tour.
After dinner we went on the Rock n' Roll Never Dies Ghost Tour. It is offered on Friday and Saturday nights at 7p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. during the SummerFest. It's easy to find and right at the front where you check in and it's $9.99 per person. This is a guided tour through the Gaylord Palms atrium. You carry a flashlight and hear ghost stories for about a half hour.  It's scarier if you go on the last tour of the night!

Girls waiting to go down
the Florida Free Fall Drop.

On Saturday, we explored the hotel more and enjoyed the amenities including the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park with a beautiful pool and water slides. The girls were brave enough to go on the Florida Free Fall drop slide and the Tamiami Twister racing slides. Even though it was a long wait, the girls said it was worth it to try it out.  They had a blast!

I think the highlight for our family was all of us trying the FlowRider, which is surfable wave simulator. You have to request a time to ride the flow rider at the towel hut. Tip: Set this up right away, so you have a time. Each time slot is for 30 minutes and it cost $20. They fill up fast. 

Randi on the FlowRider.

Graci on the FlowRider.
We were rained out the first night, so check the weather too! I was a little hesitant to try it because I thought I could get hurt if I flipped over, but after watching others and my two daughters convincing me to try it, I did! I am so glad I did it because it was awesome! By the end of the half  hour,  our daughters were able to stand up and surf. 

Ben enjoying the FlowRider!
Even my husband was doing tricks on the surf board. We met friends who said they stayed at the hotel just to go on the FlowRider and surf! They even had their own surfboards and were great at surfing!  

We had a great time enjoying the pool. It was a weekend, so it was crowded. Tip: Go early to grab a chair. Parents, there's also a really nice adult pool called the South Beach pool, which is beautiful and very relaxing.

Graci and Randi made "Kidz Sushi" aka candy sushi.

There are great activities and crafts for the kids during SummerFest. My girls loved the junior chef classes. This is only offered on Saturdays and is $14.99 per child.  I highly recommend doing this with the kids, my girls loved it! Each week it is something different. My girls had fun making "Kidz Sushi," which was actually candy sushi. The kids designed their own chef hats and had classes with a culinary expert. We also enjoyed devouring their creations!

The girls also had fun going to the Relache Spa and creating their own "Rockstar Fizz" this was a bath ball with essential oils.

The girls picking out their
essential oil for their bath ball.
There are three different items kids can create. They can make one or create all three to bring home. They include the a fragrant lotion, scrub or fizz. This is available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can stop by or set up a time. If the kids want to create one item it's $6.99, two items is $12.99 and three items is $18.99.
There are plenty of other things to do around the resort that are included in your stay. We ventured out to the dive-in movies and saw Sing!  It was a beautiful night and different watching a movie poolside. The movies are daily at 8:15 p.m. There are also fish feeds and alligator feedings. Sing-a-long shows and morning cartoons and a scavenger hunt.

Ben and Graci taking a photo
with the SummerFest lanyard.
Right now the they have a great deal for families with SummerFest featuring the Surf In & Rock Out Package with rates starting at $179 per night, plus taxes and fees. You get a welcome bags, two drink tumblers that include unlimited soda refills, $25 resort credit per night and a SummerFest lanyard for each guest on the reservation. Tip: The drink tumblers are awesome! Each drink is a savings of at least $4, so well worth it. There are several stations you can get the refills throughout the resort.

We were there for two days and we didn't want to leave because we were having so much fun. It was a fabulous mini-vacation!

**Click here for a link to special rates for SummerFest.

**To see more photos and video check out Instagram at Mom2MomwithKadi

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Student Graduates with Class after Bone Marrow Transplant

A proud day for Jared and his parents Tim and Denise Closterman,
 as Jared was able to graduate with his class at Seminole High in May 2017,
 after having a bone marrow transplant in September 2016.

Mak Ralston and Jared Closterman
have been best friends since second grade.
Over the last few years, I have watched my nephew Mak Ralston and his best friend Jared Closterman grow up from kids into young men. In May, they both graduated from high school, but for Jared this journey has not been easy. In 2011, when Jared was in sixth grade, he was diagnosed with a Primary Immune Deficiency Disease called Common Variable Immune Deficiency or CVID. Jared's immune system didn't have all the components to keep him protected from getting sick. He would get pneumonia and be hospitalized for weeks at a time.

Jared's parents would give him daily antibiotics to help give him protection from what his immune system wasn't able to do and he would get monthly intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatments at the hospital to supply him with one component his immune system wasn't able to make.

As Jared got older and entered high school the severity of his disease was increasing and his quality of life was starting to decrease. Jared's mom, Denise, had to resign as an elementary school teacher to take care of Jared after he was hospitalized several times.

In 2015, doctors recommended Jared have a bone marrow transplant. "It was still a very difficult decision to make because of the risks involved and because we were being told it was a long process to a full recovery," said Denise. But Jared and his parents knew a new immune system would give him a much better chance at a healthy life ahead. Through the National Marrow Donor Program there were plenty of excellent unrelated donors for Jared which was great news. "Some patients who need a bone marrow transplant don't have suitable donors, so this was a huge relief," said Denise.

In preparation of the transplant Jared was admitted to John Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg in August 2016, and on September 9, 2016, he had the actual transplant.

Jared flew up to Los Angeles, CA
as part of the Children's Dream Fund
to meet with film director Ridley Scott. 
Jared will tell you even at the age of 17, "There were moments where I completely lost hope of my recovery. I felt doubt, anxiety and other natural emotions." What kept Jared going was his family, friends and someone he met recently through  The Children's Dream Fund,  an organization granting wishes for chronically ill children. Jared's passion is writing and videography. In February 2016, Jared and his parents were flown out to LA for four days to meet film producer Ridley Scott, director of films like Blade Runner, Alien, Prometheus, The Martian and most recently Alien: Covenant.  "The experience of meeting the Director of my pursuit of film was unlike anything I've experienced before. He is very smart and a kind person, who genuinely cares about me and my family," said Jared.

As a friend of Jared and his family, I was so impressed with Ridley Scott and what he did for Jared. During Jared's bone marrow transplant Ridley wrote Jared and sent him care packages. He gave Jared encouragement to get better. He told Jared he could intern at his production company, Scott Free Productions in LA when he got better. Ridley probably has no idea how much of an impact he personally made on Jared's recovery. Jared was motivated to finish high school and his health is improving greatly.

Because Jared was out of school so long he wouldn't have been able to finish school without  the help of Pinellas County's Hospital Homebound program. This is an incredible program which helps students like Jared and others who can't attend school in a regular classroom setting. They offer classes with teachers via the internet. Because of this program,  Jared was able to finish his classes online and walk with his class at Seminole High School for graduation in May.

Jared and his family are so grateful to everyone who has made this life journey a success so far.  They want to share their story to help others to give hope and inspiration.  "Things can become hard and overwhelming with dark times, but just remember 'You've got this!'" said Jared.

I see how much Jared has already accomplished and look forward to what the future holds for him. 

***Check out one of Jared's horror short films on You Tube