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Local Family Turns Tragedy into Outreach with 3rd Annual BBQ Benefit

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To find purpose in a tragedy is one of the most difficult turnarounds a person can make. But it does happen - and it happens every day in our community. Randy and Jaime Connell are superior examples of that turnaround.

They lost their nearly 3 month old daughter, Jordan, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or S.I.D.S., in the summer of 2009. Jordan was born within a week of her due date, a perfect, healthy baby girl. She was just like any other baby - eating and "barely sleeping," as her Mom, Jaime, says. She doubled her birth weight and added to their family in the best way. A week following her 3 month checkup, Jordan stopped breathing during her nap at the sitter's. There was no reason for it, and an autopsy revealed there was no indication why it had happened because her body - inside and out - was perfect.

But it had and their lives would never be the same.

S.I.D.S. is a truly silent killer and one of the leading causes of death in children one month to one year old in the United States. It is a diagnosis of exclusion, after all other causes have been ruled out. Because Randy and Jaime also had a 2 1/2 year old little boy, they had to go on. And they decided to fight back. They started a non-profit foundation to honor her name - the My Baby Jordan Foundation for S.I.D.S.

Their efforts are focused on awareness and raising money to fund research for a cure. Jaime says,

For me, it’s her purpose – carrying her name out in a positive way. It is her 9 week purpose on earth – to find a cure for what is causing these babies to pass away.

Unfortunately, S.I.D.S. has struck for years. Eariler this year, Robert Redford spoke out in AARP Magazine about losing his 5 month old son to S.I.D.S., fifty years ago. He states:

It was really hard. We were very young. I had my first theater job, which didn’t pay much. We didn’t know anything about SIDS, so the only thing you think is that you’ve done something wrong. As a parent, you tend to blame yourself. That creates a scar that probably never completely heals.

The biggest issue that parents face in fighting S.I.D.S. is knowing about it in the first place. The Connells want to put "Sleep Safe Kits" and sleep apnea monitors in the hands of every new parent in Houston, and they are working with several Houston area hospitals to do just that. MBJ Foundation also serves as a support group for parents and family members who have experienced this loss. And their long term goals are to provide much needed funds for researchers to find a cure and take awareness of S.I.D.S internationally.

You can support the MBJ Foundation this weekend. On Saturday, October 29th, 2011, they are hosting their 3rd annual BBQ Benefit at the Coldwell Banker United offices in Cypress, from 11 am - 3 pm. Costumes are welcome; there will be games for kids and a pumpkin patch. There will also be a bake sale and college football on TV.

The bbq is provided by the Award Winning Raging Bull Tailgaters and is $10 a plate, which includes brisket, beans, potato salad and a drink. You can also pre-order whole-cooked and wrapped briskets to take home. There will be a raffle for a 1080P HD TV and over 90 silent auction items including: Andre Johnson & Texas A&M Footballs, a Yao Ming Basketball, Texas Autographed Footballs, a Hunting/Fishing Expedition and Texans Tickets.

All proceeds go to support their S.I.D.S. awareness and prvention efforts and to find a cure.

Randy and Jaime aren't stopping there. As part of raising funds for MBJ Foundation, they plan to host a golf tournament in the Spring, a 5k walk in June to celebrate Jordan's birthday and are looking into a Casino Night event as well.

You can learn more about their story and about preventing S.I.D.S., as well as get updates at http://mbjsids.org/. If you would like to donate, find the “Donate to the Cause” button on the site. They need your help to ensure their mission of: Joining Organizations Research Doctors Answers Now (or J.O.R.D.A.N), becomes a reality!

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