© 2017 KSDK-TV
A project fraught with dread ends with a heartwarming surprise
Last November we took you to Webster Groves to find out why hearts were popping up all over the community and after our story aired one more heart appeared out of nowhere and the story behind it was something we had to share.
Heidi Glaus, KSDK 11:20 AM. CDT March 20, 2017
Jason Jerome's arrival wasn't exactly something Becky Ortyl was looking forward to.
"We were doing work as part of project clear for MSD and just to put a sewer liner," explains Jason.
It was a front yard project fraught with dread.
"I was a little concerned at first how big this hole would be and what happens afterwards and yeah I wasn't thrilled," Becky says.
For Jason, a field technician for bi-state utilities, it was just another on-site job. So they did the typical business banter and went on with their days. Jason noticed the hearts, but didn't think too much about it until a couple days later.
"I saw your story on Channel Five and I was like wow I know that lady and my wife was like who? I said the lady on TV ,I just worked at her house."
The story which first aired in November was about Oakes, Becky's son and his hard fought battle with a congenital heart defect.
"He spent his entire life at St. Louis Children's Hospital in the cardiac intensive care unit."
15 precious months and when he passed in June of 2012 neighbors did something she'll never forget.
"They tied red ribbons on all the trees to the church, it was so sweet and it meant the world to us and I told my neighbor Rebecca I'm going to be heartbroken when those red ribbons come down."
So when the ribbons came down red hearts slowly went up in Webster Groves.
She and one of those neighbors decided to sell them as as a fundraiser for Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation, the not-for-profit Becky and her husband founded to help families like theirs.
"The next time I came out I let her know that I had seen the piece and that that I was appreciative of her struggle the fight her son put up," Jason says.
But that's not all Jason did. When he and his crew restored the site they left it far better than they found it.
"I just had some scrap steel at the shop," he explains.
He gave it a couple of coats of red paint and placed it in Becky's sidewalk.
"It's easy to give up and hide away in the house, but you took something and you made something positive and beautiful out of that tragedy and you know just saying hey," he tells Becky.
"I just turned around and probably about ten feet behind me was the heart in the concrete and I just froze," she says.
It is a symbol of solidarity set in cement.
"It was just something I could add that wasn't going to hurt anybody."
On the contrary, it was something that helped Becky get back to her blog.
"So the blog initially was so I could post cute pictures ad nauseum for grandma to see."
But after Oakes it no longer felt good to write.
"It felt really bad to blog. It felt bad on good days to talk about how great my life was and that my life was full of joy again and moving forward. We've had this other child and lots of other joys in our life."
Jason's heart changed that.
"So when this happened I thought that's it, I'm going to tell this story and post it on the blog."
She took it as a sign from her little angel and it's been her most read, most shared post. A chance encounter that made a lasting imprint on both of their hearts
"It was just something nice for her, I didn't have any intentions of it being anything else then just let her know that I saw her story and that I cared."
- Mar 26, 2017, 12:26 p.m.
- Mar 26, 2017, 10:24 p.m.
- Mar 26, 2017, 12:52 p.m.