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Breathing room

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: KAELEE SYRING - Jayden Lobley throws the first pitch at the home baseball game on April 22. The game was dedicated to Jayden and was the culmination of  a week's fundraising efforts.

The boy who threw the first pitch at the Estacada High School home baseball game on Friday, April 22, may not have had a lot of height, but he had a lot of heart.

The pitcher was Jayden Lobley, a first-grader at Clackamas River Elementary School.

The game represented the culmination of a week of fundraising for Jayden and his family. Every year, Estacada High’s senior class representatives choose a family in need that will be the beneficiaries of fundraising activities. Jayden’s family caught their attention because of the medical issues the young boy has faced in the last year.

Doctors are still looking into Jayden’s condition, but he’s been diagnosed with moderate persistent asthma and a possible immune disorder.

“Since September, he’s probably had at least 100 colds and viruses,” said Jayden’s mother, Tiffany, who noted that Jayden was in the hospital when she first learned about the fundraising efforts. “A regular cold can last up to a month and sometimes sends him to the hospital.”

Tiffany noted that Jayden had been fairly healthy until about a year ago, when the string of illnesses kicked in. Moderate persistent asthma is characterized by daily asthma symptoms, prompting regular use of a rescue inhaler to treat shortness of breath. Normal activities can be affected by wheezing, shortness of breath, or a feeling of tightness in the chest. Flare-ups, which happen at least once a week, can affect sleep.

Estacada High's senior class representatives typically raise funds with their annual Mr. Ranger talent competition, but when fewer than usual participants signed up this year, they decided to do something different.

From April 18-22, they spent a week fundraising around the high school, including organizing raffles and donation jars. Senior class representatives liked seeing the school come together with a common goal.

“I think sometimes people don’t understand the purpose behind Mr. Ranger,” said Shaylie Darity, one of the senior class representatives. “This was more focused on Jayden, rather than being a performance.”

Seeing the generosity of her schoolmates made Darity happy.

“It was great seeing people donate,” she said. “They didn’t even ask to buy anything, they just donated.”

Their efforts culminated with the baseball game on Friday, April 22.

The game was dedicated to Jayden, who received a team hat and free pass to future high school sporting events, in addition to throwing the first pitch. Jayden had fun at the game.

“I would throw the pitch again,” he said. “I like baseball."

Tiffany said her son really felt included at the game, which is particularly important to him since he often has to miss school.

“They really made Jayden feel loved and cared about,” she said. “He really felt like he was a part of something. Everybody was so inviting.”

In total, the high school raised $1,000 for Jayden and presented it to him and his family on Friday, April 29. The funds will go toward Jayden's medical treatment. But the real gift may have been more than money.

“(Jayden) still can’t stop talking about how loved he felt,” Tiffany said. “It’s really indescribable how much effort they put in for him.”

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