New Kent community rallies as high school sophomore battles heart condition
Ever since the establishment of #NewKentStrong, the New Kent community has bonded through times of adversity, excitement, ups, and downs. Now, the locality is seeking support to assist a New Kent High School sophomore who is suffering from a rare setback.
Juan Mikel Jones was airlifted to the University of Virginia on Dec. 19. According to information received, he is suffering from Viral Cardiomyopathy, a disease that thickens the ventricles of the human heart. The teenager now faces the realistic possibility of surgery and a heart transplant.
Juan is an honor roll student and was actively involved in several activities at New Kent High School. He is a member of New Kent’s football team and was participating in wrestling prior to his condition.
“He is a good young man who always is thinking about others,” said Avery Jones, an assistant coach for New Kent High School’s football team. “It’s tough to see what he’s going through and everything, but I know that we are going to do everything we can for him.”
Word has begun to spread through the community about Juan’s situation. His father, Woodrow Jones, is a single father of three and had to take a significant leave of absence, New Kent does what they normally do; become #NewKentStrong.
Several local businesses have joined in the fight to support Juan and his family. Colonial Kitchen and Mart near the high school will donate 20 percent of its profit to the Jones family from sales on Jan. 4, 2018. One family is collecting Christmas trees for disposal and donating the proceeds to the cause.
But where #NewKentStrong started continues to strive to assist one of their own. New Kent High School is accepting checks for the family. Checks can be made out to New Kent High School (7365 Egypt Road, New Kent, VA 23124) and in the memo, put #HelpJuan. A GoFundMe page has also been established to assist the family and can be located via search through the website.
“I’ve spoken with dad and I was up in Charlottesville yesterday (Dec. 28),” said New Kent High School principal Christopher Valdrighi, who has been in constant contact with the family. “Juan looks amazing and is always having a positive attitude.
“The family is doing super and still being supportive,” the principal continued. “Everybody is just rallying around him [Juan]. They are a strong-faith family.”
Juan is undergoing surgery today (Dec. 29) to install a pump to assist with regulating his heartbeat. The pump will be portable and is a temporary until a heart transplant takes place for the sophomore.
“Once it is installed, the doctors are going to monitor him,” Valdrighi added. “It is temporary but he will need a heart transplant. After that, hopefully he will come home.”
The principal added that more events and fundraisers are planned to support Juan once school returns to session. Updates on Juan’s condition can be found at New Kent High’s School Twitter social media page (@NewKentStrong).