Andy’s Story

One Month Short of 15, Young Man is Suddenly and Inexplicably Gone

Andy’s Family Works to Spread Awareness and Fund Research on Myocarditis

As told by Andy’s parents, Victor and Giovanna Peña

Andy’s Family Works to Spread Awareness and Fund Research on Myocarditis  
Andy Peña

It was supposed to be a wonderful weekend. Our family had travelled to Boston to watch our younger son compete at a swim championship meet. On Friday evening March 25, 2011 we had joined over 40 parents and kids from our town swim team for a celebratory dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Everyone was happy, laughing, cheering. Our older son Andy was thrilled to be with his close friend, with whom he planned to tour Boston.

One month short of turning 15, Andy felt independent, responsible and free. After dinner, we all returned to our hotel and while parents gathered together, the kids swam and cheerfully played games at the gym pool.

Because Andy was very tall, everyone wanted to be on his shoulders during a game of “chicken fight”. He was laughing and screaming hard, having a blast lifting and splashing little kids in the water.

Andy was an avid athlete, a swimmer and a runner. The high school outdoor track season was starting and he was eager to run a mile under six minutes. After swimming he jumped on a treadmill and ran hard, determined to reach his goal. His last words to his friend where, “Uff, I did it!” He laid down to rest and was suddenly and inexplicably gone, leaving family and friends in immeasurable pain and confusion.

It took more than eight months for the diagnosis to arrive: Chronic Myocarditis. The cause was viral and Andy could possibly have had the disease for weeks, even months. He did not show particularly alarming signs but occasionally mentioned shortness of breath during exercise and at night. He had been diagnosed with seasonal asthma and allergies and used an inhaler to treat these symptoms. We did not know anything about this disease, much less that its symptoms could be confused with respiratory ailments.

In memory of our beloved son Andy we plan to work on spreading awareness and funding research on myocarditis and on promoting and funding CPR training.