by Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service
Friends of a Minden family whose 8-year-old son died last year are hosting a fundraiser Saturday to help with medical expenses.
Britt Mattinson, son of Douglas County teachers Robyn and Donovan Mattinson, collapsed and died at flag football practice on Sept. 15.
His death is thought to have been caused by a hereditary condition, Long QT Syndrome, a disorder of the heart's electrical rhythm that can occur in otherwise healthy people.
The syndrome is characterized by fast, chaotic heartbeats that may lead to fainting - and in some cases, cardiac arrest and sudden death.
The Mattinsons' daughters, Darby, 12, and Kai, 5, underwent genetic testing and showed no signs of the syndrome.
Robyn Mattinson said the family discovered after Britt's death she and several relatives had the syndrome. She had surgery, and a defibrillator was placed near her heart.
"I hope that maybe knowing a little about Long QT syndrome, people will become more aware of their family histories," she said.
"I didn't have any symptoms, nor did Britt, but with information from extended family and genetic testing, I was able to determine a great deal," she said.
Mattinson said her family is honored at the community response.
"We are truly touched. We feel the love and support from so many people as we are trying to get through each day without our beautiful little boy and brother, Britt," she said.
Holding the event during February, National Heart Month, carries special meaning, she said.
"We hope that through this tragedy of ours, people will take time to enjoy their children and live in the present. We would give anything to go back for one more day with Britt but knowing that we can't, we will hold on to all of our wonderful memories," she said.
Friends of the family have organized a spaghetti dinner and silent auction at St. Gall Pastoral Center from 5-9 p.m. Feb. 9.
Dinner is $7 per person and $25 for a family of four or more.
The evening will include live and silent auctions and a raffle.
District Judge Dave Gamble is scheduled to be auctioneer and retired Minden Elementary School Principal Klaire Pirtle is planning to come from her home in Arizona.
Organizers hope 1,000 people will attend.
Tickets may be purchased at Big Daddy's Bicycles, Taylor York Salon, Classical Glass, Wasabi's Restaurant and Indigo Restaurant, and will be sold at the door the night of the event.
Donations may be made for the Mattinson family at Bank of America, account No. 005011578665.