Ten years ago Phyllis Sudman placed Simon, her bouncy, smiling 3-month-old, in his crib for a nap. “He never woke up,” says Phyllis, 43. Grief-stricken and wanting answers, she and husband Darren called their doctor, who told them, “you should get your hearts checked,” Darren, 44, recalls.
They learned Phyllis had a congenital heart defect that, untreated, could have stopped her heart, just as it apparently did Simon’s. “He saved my life,” Phyllis says. The Sudmans, who have a healthy 12-year-old daughter, Sally, and son, Jaden, 8, have been saving lives ever since. Raising $1 million for their nonprofit Simon’s Fund (simonsfund.org), Darren and Phyllis – who was named the 2014 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth National Honoree – have provided free screenings for nearly 11,000 kids, uncovering treatable heart defects in about 100. Drew Harrington, 16, of Radnor, Pa., had a 2011 screening that led to lifesaving corrective surgery. “I feel a connection to that baby boy,” says Drew, a basketball and tennis player. “I’m just really thankful.”