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Why Cody is #skipping4sam

Posted: 4pm 04 Aug 2020

When Cody Byrne, from Warner, heard his school was joining the Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart program he leapt at the chance to sign up.

That’s because the 10-year-old from Warner lost his baby brother Sam to a heart condition which he had since birth.

“Heart disease hurts people at all ages,” Cody wrote on his Jump Rope registration. “Skipping makes your heart strong and I feel by skipping I will make my little brother proud.”

Sam was the fifth child for Matthew and Paula Byrne, of Warner. Doctors found he had atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) in a scan when Paula was around 20 weeks’ pregnant.

In AVSD, there are holes between the chambers of the right and left sides of the heart and valves that control the flow of blood between the chambers may not be formed correctly.

Sam had an operation at six months, but there were complications. He passed away after four months in intensive care.

In Sam’s memory

Sam’s parents and siblings now take every opportunity to keep his memory alive, so Cody was keen to register for Jump Rope at Prince of Peace Lutheran College in Everton Park. He uses the hash tag: #skipping4sam.

Inspired by Cody, his younger brother Jesse, also joined the program. After only a few weeks, the boys have raised more than $700 for the Heart Foundation.

“Sam was such a shining little light,” says Paula, “his loss has left a big hole in our family and these kids have had to learn tough life lessons at a very young age.

“They just keep loving him and proudly telling the world about their baby brother. They are very special kids who genuinely want to help others, because they know what can happen.”

Prince of Peace Lutheran College’s Head of Junior Campus Katrina Valencia says: “Sam’s siblings have always been committed to serving his memory well.

“Several families within our college community have beautiful heart kids in them.

“We have been touched by their stories, and feel honoured to be able to support them, encourage awareness and fundraise for this important cause.”

Millions raised

Heart Foundation CEO Queensland, Stephen Vines says more than 300,000 Aussie school kids participate in Jump Rope for Heart.

This year has posed challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic but online videos about skipping and heart health, as well as instructional videos have been developed.

Since the program’s inception in 1983, more than 10 million Australian kids and more than 90 per cent of Aussie schools have taken part in Jump Rope for Heart.

In that time, schools have raised awareness and more than $104 million to help the Heart Foundation fight heart disease – Australia’s single leading cause of death.

Those wishing to register their school for Jump Rope for Heart can sign up here. https://www.jumprope.org.au/admin/coordinators/sign_up

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