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Weekend Life

Tales From the Motherhood: Lending a helping hand for a heart

Owen Payton
Owen Payton

Monday night I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I had two babies. Yeah, I did have two babies, but these days, my oldest is a solid inch taller than I am and prides himself on being so strong that he can actually carry me, (thanks kid) and my youngest is well on her way.

But in my dream one was sleeping soundly and the other was wide awake, and I was trying to nurse him.

Nursing came easily to me when my children were babies, but in my dream it was a struggle. I couldn’t fathom why I dreamed this until I recalled that Monday afternoon, Noah and I had a bit of a “moment.”
I’ll spare you the grisly details, but you know how you can show up somewhere and all of your kid’s buddies will wave enthusiastically, and some will even call out a cheerful greeting? (Not only that, but one of Noah’s buddies recently stuck his head in my car window before their soccer game to give me the good news that “my parents said I can live with you!” – which, you know, warmed my heart – but I digress.)

But your own kid – the one you gave birth to (have I mentioned the pain?), pretends he’s never met you before. You know, ’cause he was a cabbage patch kid. A free agent. I get it, my little boy wants to grow up and I need to let him.

So, I guess that means that if he forgets to bring his water bottle to soccer practice I need to let him figure it out on his own. I get that this is a good thing, but shoot, I’ll never really get used to the fact that I’m losing my baby.

But to lose him altogether? Unthinkable. But that’s a possibility other parents in our little soccer family have been forced to face.

Like Chris Payton, the boys’ and girls’ J.V. soccer coach at Batavia High School (where he teaches special education) and his wife Christina, who pray that their little boy, 6-year-old Owen, who was born with a congenital heart defect and was recently diagnosed with heart failure, will be able to get a life-saving heart transplant (doctors at the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago placed him on the transplant list last spring).

But it won’t be cheap. The surgery will cost upwards of $500,000 and the Payton’s, who also have two other children, Juliet, 4, and Tredway, nearly 6 months, need to come up with $60,000 to cover transplant-related expenses.

Raising that kind of cash will be no small feat, but they’re going for it, with support from the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), a national charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses.

The Payton’s have already raised about 10 percent, and now are planning a pig-roast Oct. 28 at Hawthorne’s Backyard Bar and Grill, 1200 W. Hawthorne Lane, in West Chicago, which they hope will get them closer to their goal: A new heart for Owen.

I just don’t know why some parents must face such heartbreak, but I do know that we have to help.
We have to help give little Owen a second chance at life. You know, so he can grow up and give his mom a hard time.

Event information
A flag-football game for all ages will kick-off at 11 a.m. Oct. 28, and a raffle auction will be held during the airing of the Bears game, which will be shown on Hawthorne’s 120-inch screen.

Tickets cost $20 per adult and $10 per child in advance or $25 at the door and include a food buffet.
Drink specials will be offered and 15 percent of all beverage sales will go to COTA.

Tickets may be ordered from Batavia freshman boys’ soccer coach (and Rotolo Middle School art teacher) Jenna McKnight at Anyone unable to attend can still participate by following Owen’s progress or by making a donation online at

Early consignments include two Trike Flight one-hour lessons, a three-night South Haven Michigan getaway for two, Chicago Bears hats signed by Charles Tillman and photography packages.

Donations for the raffle are still being accepted and can be made via visiting Owen’s website or by contacting McKnight at or by calling 630-362-9760.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at

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