Students come together to raise awareness

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It is Friday night at nearly 11 p.m. The phone rings, and a woman wearily gets up to answer it.

“We’ve got a match. Come to the hospital now,” a voice says.

The woman—senior Abigail Catterton’s mother—hangs up from her conversation with the Johns Hopkins nurse and rushes Catterton’s younger brother to the hospital.

Bradley Catterton, the brother, had an emergency heart transplant in 2009, when he was in second grade. After he passed out on the playground, doctors determined that he needed a pacemaker, but during the surgery, he went into cardiac arrest, and they couldn’t complete the procedure.

Bradley went to the top of the list for organ donations, and 11 days later, he successfully received his new heart. Catterton’s family is one of several at JC that have gone through daunting medical issues. Catterton, junior Abigail Levee, and junior Amanda Brannan are each running or participating in 5k fundraisers in honor of their loved ones and their dedicated medical personnel and researchers.

During the Cattertons’ time in and out of the hospital, they came to know another girl, Bridget Diveley, who would receive a heart transplant in 2010. Together the two families started the Bridget and Bradley Heart Run 5k.

“Mostly, we just wanted to give back to Hopkins for what they did,” Catterton said. The first race was in Sept. 2012 and raised over $20,000 for the Children’s Center at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Catterton herself came in second overall for the girls’ 14-19 age group.

This year’s race was Sept. 21 at Annie’s Playground on the Ma and Pa Trail. Runners, walkers, and strollers gathered to celebrate and raise money for the life-saving hospital.

Jack Levee, brother of Abigail Levee, was an organ donor: if he died, he wanted his organs given to someone who needed them, someone such as Bradley Catterton. A rising senior at Calvert Hall in 2012, Jack walked into his mom’s room on the night of June 25, stating that he couldn’t breathe. He collapsed as his mother stuck an EpiPen into his outer thigh. She tried to administer CPR, but as the Levee family found out later, his lungs had clamped tightly together and no oxygen was entering into them.

Levee died on July 3, after being in a coma for eight days. His episode was the result of an allergic reaction and asthma attack. Respecting his wishes, Levee’s family donated his organs.

Both last year and this year, the Levee family has created a team to run in the Donate Life Family Fun Run, a 5k taking place in the Camden Yards Sports Complex in Baltimore. This year it is on Oct. 5, and they want to raise $2,000 to go to the Living Legacy Foundation.

“They’re the most positive people I’ve ever met,” Abigail Levee said. The Living Legacy Foundation helped the family through the decision and process of donating the organs.

For Levee, the race is also about educating people on organ donation.

“I want people to know it’s an option. If you ever got in a car crash, you would want someone to donate for you,” Levee said. She also wants people to become more aware of allergies and asthma.

“Many people don’t even know how to use an EpiPen. Say someone was running and they passed out. What would you do,” Levee said.

Levee wants to eventually expand beyond the 5k into other areas, and she’s enlisted the help of fellow junior Amanda Brannan.

“I’ve talked to Amanda about other fundraisers like the crab feast she’s done,” Levee said.

Brannan, whose mother died from cancer, has organized the “Believe in a Breakthrough” team for the Hunt Valley Race for the Cure on Oct. 20. Last year, over 60 students from the class of 2015 participated, and Brannan said people have already agreed to participate this year.

“It says something about how much fun they really had last year if they’re willing to get up at 5:30 [a.m.] the day after homecoming to do it again. I really appreciate all the love and support from the JC community, but especially the class of 2015,” Brannan said.

On Sept. 14 at her annual crab feast fundraiser, Brannan reached her personal milestone of $50,000 raised since her mother’s death. Her goal was to reach [$50,000] by the time she was 18.

“Instead of raising money, now my goal is to spread awareness,” Brannan said. She wants to focus on breast cancer but acknowledges that there are many other cancers too.

“I hope to start my own organization that will focus on breast cancer but spread awareness about other cancers,” Brannan said.

At each of the runs, students are being welcomed and encouraged to participate and volunteer.  Six service hours are available for the Race for the Cure and three for the Donate Life Family Fun Run.

Kathy Deaver is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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