By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
The Take This Dress to Heart event at Meadowdale High School wasn’t just a fashion show and dress sale.
Saturday’s gathering really was more of an opportunity for the community to come together to show support for the family of one of its own.
The fundraiser was organized by the family and friends of Matthew Truax, a Meadowdale junior, who passed away last September due to an undetected heart condition. Money raised will support heart screenings on Feb. 12 at Meadowdale High School by the Nick of Time Foundation.
Melinda Truax, Matthew’s mother, appreciated all the support from the community.
“You have no idea how much this means to me,” she said.
More than 400 dresses were donated by women and girls throughout Snohomish and King Counties.
“I tried on a dress this morning that had a $1,000 tag inside of it,” Melinda said. “It was amazing.”
Most of the dresses were priced at $25, which is what the Nick of Time Foundation asks for as far as a donation for one heart screening.
Many of the boys who escorted the models down the runway were Matthew’s teammates from his soccer team or close friends from school.
“They put on their tuxes and said ‘we’ll walk the girls down the aisle,’” Melinda said. “I just can’t believe it. It means a lot.”
Two businesses donated dress racks and video screens. Mountlake Terrace High School’s video department offered to tape the fashion show. Someone volunteered to provide the music for the show.
“Everybody stepped up. Everybody donated,” Melinda said. “There are so many people involved in this.
Many of the volunteers, who were friends of Matthew, have been meeting once a week since his death. They have been holding various fundraisers and already have raised more than $5,000.
The goal of all the fundraising is to pay for the heart screenings for any parent who wants their child evaluated. Any additional funds will be used to purchase additional AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) for the Edmonds School District.
“I thought my son was perfectly healthy,” Melinda said. “I would have never imagined that he needed a heart screening. He played a 90-minute soccer practice the night before he died. … He never complained once of trouble breathing, his heart, nothing. He went to school the next day at 7:30 in the morning and by 9:30 he collapsed on the track here at Meadowdale.”
Matthew had a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick and the thickened heart muscle can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood. The condition, which affects about one out of every 500 people, can cause sudden cardiac arrest in young people, including athletes.
Melinda is hoping to increase the numbers of AEDs in schools.
“If we had a portable AED down on the track, it could have made a difference,” she said. “We don’t know that for sure. … We’d like to raise a lot more money, over and above what we need for the screenings, to pay for AEDs for all the schools in the Edmonds School District.
“We’ll continue to raise money after today.”