Jack’s Journey: Conquering a Heart Condition & Championing Heart Health

Vice President of Clean Energy and Emerging Technology Kris Stryker and his son, Jack.

Tampa Electric Vice President of Clean Energy and Emerging Technology Kris Stryker used to believe that heart disease primarily affected older individuals due to lifestyle choices. Then his son, Jack, was born. “Jack was born with a congenital heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries, a condition in which the main blood vessels leaving the heart are reversed,” shared Kris. “Until Jack’s condition, I had no idea how common and varied congenital heart conditions are and how little is known about what causes them.”

Doctors explained Jack’s rare condition affects only 1 in 3,400 newborns and that he needed urgent surgery within the first few weeks of his life. They also offered a glimmer of hope, explaining that the procedure had a high success rate and was curative, with minimal need for additional surgeries. Those words provided Kris’ family with hope during one of the most trying periods of their lives.

Fast forward sixteen years later and Jack is thriving. “Jack is perfectly normal now, well as normal as any teenager is,” joked Kris. “He isn’t able to participate in competitive sports but otherwise has no limitation. He sees the cardiologist annually just to make sure everything is ok, and thankfully he hasn’t had any complications.”

One of the ways Jack is living life to the fullest is by spreading awareness about heart health. “He knows he was very lucky to be diagnosed and treated by great doctors in an area with world-class facilities to handle these conditions,” said Kris. “He knows not everyone is so lucky and that there are a lot of heart conditions that doctors don’t know how to permanently fix and kids who have to live with significant limitations.

So, when Jack heard his dad’s company was playing a leading role in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk on Nov. 4, he jumped at the chance to lead a team. “Jack’s Heart Heroes” has already raised hundreds of dollars toward Tampa Electric’s companywide goal. One donor happens to be a proud papa. “I have personal experience that the American Heart Association is a great organization that helps educate on heart issues in addition to helping families and kids that aren’t as fortunate as Jack is,” said Kris after donating the largest gift yet to his son’s team. “I’m proud to work for a company that gives back in a meaningful way to such a worthwhile cause.”

Jack's story serves as a poignant reminder that heart health concerns us all. Heart conditions can affect anyone - regardless of age, gender or overall health. “Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among both men and women,” said Kris. “Often, it strikes without warning, and we must be vigilant in our efforts to combat it.”

Please support the invaluable work done by the American Heart Association by donating to a Tampa Electric Heart Walk team, like Jack’s, today. Together, we can make a difference, raise awareness about heart health and continue to support the American Heart Association in its vital mission to save lives and promote heart wellness. Thank you for joining us in this important endeavor, as we walk hand in hand toward a heart-healthy future for all.