Friends, family rally to meet Cape mom’s dying concern
Jennifer Johnson was blessed with a husband, two wonderful children, and the spirit and heart of a lion just in need of a miracle.
Sadly, that miracle was not to be.
Johnson died Dec. 17 of complications from open-heart surgery, leaving behind her two “heartbeats,” Mikayla, 33 months, and Malykai, 18 months.
Devastated family members are now pushing past their grief to get the word out on this extraordinary woman in hopes of raising funds so her children can be provided for and so Jennifer’s family can get on its feet.
For Johnson, her family was her first concern.
Johnson posted a heartbreaking Youtube video in the weeks before her death in the form of a flashcard story, choking back tears as she said so much without saying a word.
The Youtube video has gone viral, and has received attention worldwide, with news outlets like CNN and the Daily Mail in London telling her story.
“Jennifer has been in news feeds worldwide, but nobody locally other than FOX4,” said Laura Melbourne, Jennifer’s aunt. “I’d like to get the word out to people.”
Those who love her describe Johnson as a woman with a huge heart, from the love she had for her children to her love of life and desire to live.
“She was a fighter. She put the pedal to the metal and lived life large,” said Eileen Kordecki, Jennifer’s aunt and executor of Jennifer’s will. “She went after everything with tenacity and did everything she could to be there for her kids.”
On Feb. 15, 2011, when Johnson was five months pregnant with Malykai, she was diagnosed with HOCM – Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy, just one day after her husband, Robert, proposed to her on Valentine’s Day.
HOCM is a rare illness where the heart hardens, restricting blood flow.
In January, she had a pacemaker put in. The family moved to Florida in June to be close to the father’s side of the family, and in October, she learned she needed open-heart surgery.
In her youtube video, she called it another bump in the road, not unlike the day in 2005 when she was shot in the head in a carjacking while living in Arizona.
She didn’t even chip a tooth. She screamed as the bullet went through her mouth, with the heat from the bullet clotting the blood vessel that kept her from bleeding to death, Melbourne said.
“She’s just a miracle person. It boggles the mind her she didn’t suffer any side effects. She could have been killed or paralyzed or brain dead,” Melbourne said.
She set up two fund raisers to help pay for dental work needed before surgery and for her aftercare. She also set up a Facebook page called “A Heart Worth Saving,” to let people know how she was progressing.
She also produced the youtube video in which Jennifer is seen holding back tears as she tells her story through flashcards about her health condition and the fear of her leaving her two “heartbeats.”
The video was inspired by a teenager who died last Christmas from the same illness.
She went in for surgery Dec. 14 at HealthPark, but she had complications. She underwent two additional surgeries over the next two days, but her heart never recovered. She was taken off life support on Dec. 17.
“She should be remembered as a kind and giving person. Her focus was to take care of her two kids,” Kordecki said. “She called herself a domestic engineer.”
Melbourne said it may have been Jennifer’s heart that did, but it is also the one thing she should be remembered for.
“You have no idea what a powerful heart that girl had. She lived by heart alone, and it’s so ironic that it was her heart that she died of,” Melbourne said.
The Kordecki family has set up a fund-raising Website at: www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/A-Heart-Worth-Saving/37502, which as of Friday morning raised more than $1,280 toward a $10,000 goal to help pay for the children’s immediate needs.
Another is set up at:
People also can contribute via PayPal to KaylaandKai@aol.com.
Anyone who wants to send a monetary donation can send it to: Eileen Kordecki (Executor)
c/o Mikayla & Malykai Johnson Trust Fund
4624 SW 25th Ct.
Cape Coral, FL 33914.
Checks can be made payable to Eileen Kordecki.