Playtime: Mother of teen who died too soon now working to save others

Jen Marx
Jen Marx

Many of my columns focus on what to do with the kids nearby. Lately, with the abundance of ways to help those around us, and in this case ourselves as well, community issues have been at the forefront. If you haven’t already heard about Matthew Truax, he was a 16-year-old Meadowdale High School student who died in 2013 while running the track in P.E. Matthew’s parents, Melinda and Jerry, along with the volunteered time and donations of so many, have made this so much more than just a sad story that we, as parents, decide could never happen to us. The Heart of Edmonds Project, which was created in memory of 16-year-old Matthew, is working to ensure it won’t happen to again.

Here is what you need to know, how this affects you, and how you can help — with an event coming up in Edmonds Feb. 27.

Matthew Truax
Matthew Truax

Matthew suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) due to an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the sudden onset of an abnormal and lethal heart rhythm and is the leading cause of sudden death in exercising young athletes. On average, a seemingly healthy young person suffers sudden cardiac arrest every two days in the U.S. and according to Matthew’s parents, most children who experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest have no prior symptoms. Unless a normal heart rhythm is restored with a shock from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) within minutes, death is the end result. This was the case with Matthew. His school called 911, provided CPR and unlocked the gates for the medics to drive down onto the track, but it was seven minutes after the call was made that paramedics used an AED on Matthew.

While all of this information is heartbreaking and overwhelming, there are ways to help. Melinda says, “With improved awareness, training and access to AEDs, 50,000 lives could be saved each year.” Having an AED on campuses benefits more than just the students. She believes that AEDs, which can be easily operated with no medical background, “should be common in places where the community gathers, meets and spend time, because they save lives. A donation like this is always great, not just for the school district, but for the entire community. The life saved may be someone you know or love.”

An AED is the only effective treatment in restoring a regular heart rhythm during SCA, and for each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced by approximately 10 percent.

The Heart of Edmonds Project is sponsoring a Saturday, Feb. 27 gala at Holy Rosary Parish Center in Edmonds to complete their mission to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at all Edmonds School District schools and playfields. The first Save A Life; Equip A Hero Auction & Gala raised enough money to equip five high schools in the Edmonds School District with 27 new AEDs. The goal for the second Save A Life; Equip A Hero Auction & Gala is “to raise a minimum of $60,000 to equip five middle and 22 elementary schools in the Edmonds School District.”

If you would like to attend the gala, which will have a silent auction, wine tasting, and live music, you can buy tickets at The deadline to buy tickets is this Saturday, Feb. 20.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is a traffic reporter by dawn and writer and PBJ maker by day. She is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her trying to make sense of begging kids to ” just eat the mac n cheese” at jen_marx . If you have a kid-friendly event you’d like to share, email her at

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