UI student volunteers in friend’s memory


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When Mandi Carozza visits home, she always makes sure to drop by her best friend Jenny’s house to visit with her family.

“I see Jenny in her mom, and I think she sees Jenny in me,” Carozza said.

The duo was inseparable from sixth grade until tragedy stuck a week before their senior year at Glenbrook North High School, when Jenny Snyder collapsed on the soccer field and died instantly from sudden cardiac arrest.

“She said, ‘I love you,’ went to soccer practice, and then I got a call that said she fainted,” said Michele Snyder, Jenny’s mother. “But now we know that wasn’t it.”

Their differences made their friendship what it was.

“Mandi brought out the wilder side of Jenny, and Jenny brought out the calmer side of Mandi,” Snyder said.

August will mark the third anniversary of Jenny’s death and will be the third summer Carozza has served on the Junior Board of Directors for the Jennifer Lynn Snyder Teen Heart Foundation.

The elder Snyder founded the organization in Jenny’s name in October 2009 to help save lives.
The foundation’s goal is to make automated external defibrillators available at parks and fields — that was not an option at the field Jenny collapsed on.

“We don’t know if she would have survived, but it would have been her only chance,” Snyder said.

She wants to make the portable defibrillators accessible, out in the open, and labeled, as well as teach community members how to use them. She said that after an attack, the chance of survival goes down every minute by 10 percent.

The Junior Board of Directors is made up of 15 students who were friends of Jenny’s at Glenbrook North High and a lifesaver for Snyder.

She said their creativity, work ethic, and focus blows her away, “they keep [Jenny’s] memory alive.”

Amy Nadell, the secretary of the Junior Board, described Jenny as genuine and somebody who always put others before herself.

“I want people to know about sudden cardiac arrest and how it could happen to anyone,” Nadell, said. “I would like to see defibrillators placed throughout the U.S. so others would not have to deal with the sorrow me and my friends did.”

With each defibrillator running around $3,000, the foundation has been organizing annual summer fundraisers.

Carozza said the first year the foundation did a concert in the park, it raised $3,000.

“We [aim] to get publicity, pricing, and gifts for the silent auction,” Nadell said. “Really, our main focus is getting the word out to get attendance up.”

UI journalism major Carozza said she will spend the month of July interning for Snyder, working on the website and attending meetings with the park district.

Snyder said she will by her side every day, “getting into the nitty-gritty of the foundation.”

“They come into my house, we have these meetings, and they not only fill a need from a philanthropic perspective, they fill my heart,” Snyder said. “When I see Mandi, I see Jenny; now multiply that by 15.”

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