Adam and Jim Gray Their support has been heartfelt
By CHARLIE PATTON, The Times-Union
Adam Gray was a senior at Nease High School in fall 2003 when a shark attacked him.
He was paddling his surfboard off Ponte Vedra Beach when the small shark grabbed his foot and tried to pull him under. He escaped with a bloody foot.
When he got to Baptist Medical Center-Beaches, where a doctor used five stitches on him, Gray told the physician about his history of heart surgeries dating back to when he was 6 weeks old.
The doctor expressed sympathy that anyone should be so unlucky as to suffer heart surgery and a shark attack. Gray disagreed: "I think I'm really lucky, because I'm alive."
Today, Gray is 23, he still surfs, and he is one semester away from getting a degree in building construction from the University of North Florida. He is spending the summer working as an intern at FaverGray, a design-build company that his dad, Jim Gray, launched with his business partner, Kevin Faver, three years ago.
While both father and son are pretty matter-of-fact about Adam Gray's history of heart problems, Jim Gray has vivid memories of what he calls "the worst day of my life.
Adam Gray was born in 1984 with a heart murmur, an indication of a small hole in his heart. The Grays were in the office of a pediatric cardiologist at University Hospital - now Shands Jacksonville - when the infant suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest.
The cardiologist and his staff, using experimental drugs, resuscitated the baby and, later that day, Adam Gray underwent his first surgery. Eventually, he went through two valve replacement surgeries in Boston, at ages 5 and 15. He knows the time may come when he'll need more surgery.
One of the things Jim Gray and his wife, Dale, discovered during all this is that most hospitals aren't set up well to accommodate parents.
So they got involved in starting a Ronald McDonald House in Jacksonville, which opened in San Marco in 1988. Then, in 1993, Gray served as a consultant and parents' advocate during the construction of Wolfson Children's Hospital's current tower, in which the rooms are designed so parents can sit, read and occasionally nap.
More recently, FaverGray has been involved in an effort to help other children with congenital heart defects. Adam Gray's cardiologist is Jose Ettedgui, chief of the University of Florida Jacksonville Division of Pediatric Cardiology.
Ettedgui founded Patrons of the Hearts, a nonprofit organization that pays to bring children from Third World countries to Wolfson for heart evaluation and surgery.
FaverGray has donated $15,000 for three of those surgeries.
Now the company will be the sponsor of Artscapade 2008, an October fundraiser for Patrons of the Hearts.
"It's a very meaningful cause to us," Jim Gray said.
In that, he has his son's endorsement: "I think it's neat what they're doing."firstname.lastname@example.org
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