Like so many children of those with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), Jude has been exposed to the effects of this inherited lipid disorder since he was a child. “My mom has the disease, and she’s had heart complications. I saw her in the hospital. I saw her injecting medications, so I always knew she had something,” he says.
When Jude’s mom Allison started volunteering with the Family Heart Foundation, Jude started to understand FH and the importance of managing his LDL cholesterol.
“Genetically, I could have this.”
“I realized my grandfather had this. My cousins had this, and genetically I could have this,” he explains. Because of this knowledge, Jude has been proactive in going to his yearly checkups and reminding his pediatrician that FH runs in his family.
A few years ago, Jude’s LDL came back slightly elevated. While some would have brushed it off and others would have been upset, Jude had this knowledge and support to understand what that meant and what he could do about it.
“I know to keep a smart diet and be conscious of my cholesterol panels,” he explains. This knowledge comes from his mom’s experiences and becoming a Family Heart Advocate for Awareness. Participating in training and becoming an advocate opened Jude’s eyes to the science and urgency behind FH.
“This could be 4 people in my school, and they likely don’t know it!”
“When I learned FH affects 1 in 250 people I was like ‘oh my God! This is like 4 people in my school, and they likely don’t know it!’” This sparked a passion for advocacy in Jude. “There are life-changing medications available and if someone just gets tested, it can all be very straightforward.”
Jude has taken this passion for advocacy into many areas of his life. In 2022, he and his cousin participated in the Race for More Families and More Hearts. The boys set the goal of raising a money value equal to the miles between them – one in Kentucky and one in Texas. They reached it and decided to make a round trip, doubling their goal.
“It was a whole community impact. I really love doing that.”
“I love getting involved in the community,” explains Jude, “So my favorite thing I’ve done to raise awareness is making a float for the Fourth of July.” He got a group of friends together and decorated his mom’s car with Family Heart Foundation signs.
They handed out candy and told people about FH. “I saw parents taking pictures. I think they wanted to learn more, and they were becoming aware of the organization. It was a whole community impact. I really love doing that.”
From “what is that?” to “how can I help?”
And Jude wants to carry this advocate role into his future – whether that be in the medical field or not. He notes that when he talks about FH the common question is “what is that?”
“I want more people to know FH so instead of ‘what is that’ the question becomes ‘how can I help?’”