Her son died unexpectedly. Today, she's helping to spare other families the same tragedy.
True
L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

There is no one that Christy Silva loved more than her son Aidan.

Photo via Christy Silva.

"I thought Aidan was one in a million," she says.  "He was very, very compassionate, considerate, just full of love."


The six-year-old, Silva recalls, gave the best hugs in the world. Being his mom is how she'll identify forever. "I feel like that was a responsibility that cannot be taken away from me."

In 2010, Aidan's parents lived through something that no parent should ever have to even imagine. Their son died with no warning.

Photo via Upworthy.

It was Labor Day Weekend. Aidan had just started first grade. His mother remembers them being in the house together and suddenly noticing that things had gotten strangely quiet — unusual for a home in which a six-year-old is present.

"It just occurred to me that I hadn't heard Aidan in a few minutes," she says. "I looked out in the hallway, and his back was turned to me, he was on his side." Silva reached over to tickle her child, but received no response. Aidan had died. His passing was attributed to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a life-threatening condition. It's the third-leading cause of death in The United States.

Photo via Upworthy.

SCA occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. According to recent research, more than 350,000 adults die of SCA every year. But SCA can affect anyone regardless of heart history.

Tragically, that means that children and teens who have otherwise been deemed healthy may be at risk as well. In fact, SCA is the number one cause of death among high school athletes.

What's most concerning is that while many can recognize the signs of a stroke or heart attack, they may not know what SCA looks like, nor may they know how to help someone who is experiencing it. They also may not realize that the person in distress only has moments to live once SCA begins. However, proper, timely intervention can increase survival chances significantly.

So Silva has dedicated her life to raising awareness around SCA. She's working tirelessly to ensure that it stops claiming lives.

Photo via Upworthy.

"I felt, in losing Aiden, that I had failed him as a mom," Silva says. "I did the only thing that I could — take these awful things that have happened and find that silver lining, and honor him in the way that would honor his sweet, caring spirit."

Today, Silva is the Executive Director of Aidan's Heart, which she and her husband founded in Aidan's memory. Their goal is to teach kids how to recognize the signs of SCA and offer assistance before it's too late.

"We learned from a group that kids are actually more receptive to being taught these skills, because they are not as afraid as adults are to use them," Silva says.

Recognizing that she could make a change and spare families like hers from the tragedy of losing a child made Silva "unstoppable."

She'll always be Aidan's mom first, but now sees herself as a mom to every child in her community. And that means she'll do whatever she can to keep them safe.

Photo via Upworthy.

Since its launch, Aidan's Heart has created a myriad of services to help keep kids alive and healthy. They've installed defibrillators in more than 70 schools. They've trained over 4,000 students in CPR and first-aid.

Most importantly, they've partnered with cardiologists to provide heart health testing for students. To date, Aidan's Heart has make it possible for over 1,800 teens to get cardiological screenings. Approximately 20 serious heart conditions have been diagnosed as a result.

It's no surprise that Silva's received accolades for her life-saving work. In 2018, she was named a L'Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, an honor bestowed upon ten women who have used their passion to effect major change in their communities. Furthermore, she recently learned she's L'Oreal Paris' National Honoree, and has been awarded an additional $25,000 to continue doing her life-changing work.

"I feel like it's Aidan's way of patting me on the back and saying, 'Good job.'"

"Even though things may seem really dismal, you just keep pushing forward," Silva says of her journey. "Knowing that the goal you have is a goal that can be achieved. And with the help of a great team and the love of family of friends, it can be done."

To learn more about  Christy Silva's journey, check out the video below.

In 2015, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price had a life-changing epiphany.

Price, who founded Gravity with his brother in 2004, was out hiking in the Cascade Mountains with his friend, Valerie. She told him her landlord had raised her rent by $200 and she was struggling to get by on her $40,000 a year income. Price, who was making $1.1 million a year as CEO of Gravity, was struck by her story. Not only did he feel for Valerie—a military veteran working two jobs and barely making ends meet—realized that some of his own employees might be facing similar struggles.

And they were. One employee frankly told him his entry-level salary was a rip-off. Another employee had secretly been working at McDonald's outside of work hours to make ends meet. So Price decided to make a drastic change by investing in his employees.

He researched how much money the average person would need in order to live comfortably and settled on $70,000 a year. In one fell swoop, he dropped his own salary to that amount, while also making it the minimum salary for anyone who worked at Gravity.

The move drew media coverage—and dire predictions from pundits. On Fox News and other conservative outlets he was called "foolish," a "socialist" and a "lunatic of lunatics." Rush Limbaugh called the company policy "pure unadulterated socialism" that was "going to fail" and should be a case study in MBA programs on how socialism doesn't work. Talking heads predicted that his employees would end up in the welfare line.

Six years later, Price has proved the haters wrong—by a lot.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less