When Jeff Adams, father of 7-year-old twin daughters Ashlyn and Skyler, heard about the Courage Classic bicycle tour and the Cardiac Climbers team, he knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support a cause so close to his family’s heart.
Jeff decided to ride in the event this July in honor of his daughter, Ashlyn, who underwent heart surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
At 5 years old, Ashlyn began experiencing heart pains. After she suffered a particularly bad episode, Ashlyn’s mother, Linsley, rushed her to their neighbor’s house. Their neighbor, a doctor, counted Ashlyn’s heartbeats and, after losing count at 220, told them to go to the hospital.
She was placed on an electrocardiogram (EKG) at Children’s Colorado to check for problems with the electrical activity in her heart. The EKG detected that her heart was beating too fast at 280 beats per minute. Ashlyn was diagnosed with tachycardia, a condition that causes the heart to beat too quickly, causing painful episodes.
Doctors told Ashlyn’s parents that her condition would continue to worsen throughout her lifetime and recommended surgery. This option would give Ashlyn, an athletic girl who loved to ski and hoped to participate in overnight camps, the chance to have a better quality of life.
In the fall of 2015, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Kathryn Collins performed heart surgery on Ashlyn.
“We went into Children’s Colorado, obviously terrified to have our 7-year-old going into surgery,” said Jeff. “However, the Child Life specialist who came in before surgery relieved my daughter’s anxieties. She brought in a book that showed her what to expect, and she put an IV in Ashlyn’s teddy bear. The extra attention to detail the team at Children’s Colorado showed was something we’ve never experienced.”
After a successful surgery, Ashlyn was taken care of by Denise Walden, a nurse in the Cardiac Unit. Jeff was so impressed with the care his daughter received from Denise and the rest of the Children’s Colorado team that he reached out to see what he could do to give back.
Denise explained that she is the team captain for the Cardiac Climbers, a Courage Classic team with a successful 12-year track record, recently surpassing the $1 million mark in lifetime fundraising.
Jeff immediately asked where to sign up, dedicating his ride to his daughter. He began training on his road bike and sending out emails to coworkers and friends asking them to help him fundraise.
“It’s very heartfelt and warming knowing that people have supported and given in the way they have,” said Jeff.
After many generous donations, Jeff has raised more than $8,100 and is close to reaching his fundraising goal of $9,000.
“This has been something I will continue to do for many years,” said Jeff. “This experience has opened my eyes, and it’s something I will be a life-long supporter of.”