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Marblehead steps up for heart warrior

COURTESY PHOTO
Ari Schultz received support from Marblehead residents after his recovery from a heart ailment.

By MATT DEMIRS

MARBLEHEAD — People of Marblehead are happy to see Ari Schultz return home to Stowe with a new heart and big dreams, now that he’s out of the hospital.

Sports fanatic Ari Schultz is ready to leave his days in the hospital behind and play just about every sport under the sun this summer.

The 5-year-old returned home on Friday after 189 days inpatient at Boston Children’s Hospital, 105 days since his heart transplant, and 36 days since his cardiac arrest.

Members of the All Marblehead Happenings Facebook group have been following since March when Jenny Wood began posting in the group to tell residents about Ari’s journey with heart complications.

She wrote in the group in March: “I’m posting an update on Ari. This is really more than a Marblehead happening (this is everybody on deck) happening, and he is part of our beloved Boston.”

She continued to update group members of his conditions causing people of Marblehead to rally around Ari’s battle.

Members of the group left comments on the updates: “Praying for him,” “Go Kid! You’ve got this!” and “Prayers for this sweet child and his family.”

People from all over the world have been following Ari’s story on the Internet.

His parents, Mike and Erica Schultz, began documenting their son’s life by starting the website, www.echoofhope.org, which provided updates on Ari’s health to his followers.

His YouTube channel, which shows the lives of Ari’s family in and out of the hospital, has more than 1.8k subscribers and 22 videos.

The family has garnered tons of support over the Internet, sending not only their love and prayers, but monetary donations too.

The families’ crowdfunding page at https://www.gofundme.com/AriDangersNewHeart has raised more than $319,680 of their $500,000 goal to assist with medical bills, and losing their home to mold damage when Ari was in the hospital. The family is in a rental now.

The family posted a video on their Youtube channel AriEchoOfHope on Thursday when Ari’s father, Mike, delivered special and heartwarming news to his son.

“You know how you’ve been getting better now and we’ve been talking about going home someday,” said his father.

“It might be a few weeks or months,” Ari answered. Dressed in Xander Bogaerts’ Red Sox jersey, Ari is shown waving his baseball bat around.

That’s when his dad told him something changed.

“I think it’s going to be just days now,” he said. “As a matter of fact, do you want to go home on Friday?”

His mother, Erica Schultz, asked him: “What do you want to do when you get home?”

“Maybe go to a baseball field?”

Ari’s heart complications began even before he was born, when he became the first person ever to undergo two successful heart surgeries before he was born.

In total, he has had more than 20 surgeries in all, including open heart, in-utero surgery, cardiac catheterizations, central lines, G tubers, and more.

Although Ari is home, he is not well enough to go out at this time since he is immune compromised, Mike said.

He’s prepared a list of things of everything he’s ready to do being home, including going to a Red Sox Game and having Andrew Benintendi, Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Sandy Leon, Jackie Bradley Jr., and others come to his birthday party.
He even included the legend who’s done suiting up.
“And Big Papi, even though he’s retired,” he said.

He also wants to go to a Bruins game, and work on his swing playing golf at Butternut Farm Golf Club.

Not to mention eating Kelly’s Sea Food lobster rolls, fried scallops, and whole belly clams all summer long.

Luckily enough, Red Sox President Sam Kennedy extended an invitation to Ari after seeing Thursday’s video.

He’s really excited about it, said his father. He also thought it was cool Benintendi tweeted him.

“I’m going to play left field for the Boston Red Sox, but after Andrew Benintendi retires,” Ari said.

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