Central Ohio has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the United States, which affects low-income families and minorities in an alarming rate. Alive in My Heart supports families impacted by pregnancy and infant loss by connecting them to each other and to community resources in Central Ohio. We envision a community in which no family has to endure pregnancy or infant loss in isolation.
Who We Are
Kessia and AJ Cericola (President and Treasurer)
Kessia and AJ Cericola had been married for 6 years when Kessia found out that she was pregnant for the first time. The excitement and surprise turned into an intense journey when, on New Year’s Eve of 2015, the 20 week ultrasound revealed that they were having a baby girl with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).
They had never heard of this congenital issue before and were very surprised since they are very healthy and young. As time went by, they found out that CDH happens at least once in every 2,000 to 5,000 live births, and that their baby girl, Annelise, had an 80% chance of survival if she was born full term. Unfortunately, Kessia’s water broke on week 34, and despite all prayers and efforts of the medical team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Annelise passed away in Kessia’s arms 3 days after she was born.
The devastation caused by their loss led Kessia to research about infant mortality and the impact of child loss on affected families. She became aware of the extremely high infant mortality rate in Ohio and in her own backyard – Columbus. The yearly rate of infants who had passed away also represented the yearly number of families who had been, were going, and will go through the same pain and devastation that AJ and her were going through. This awareness, coupled with the great support of friends and family, led them to join forces with Elizabeth and Kerry to found Alive in My Heart in order to connect families with each other and with resources available in Central Ohio. Kessia is a business law attorney originally from Brazil and AJ leads his company’s audit team. They are passionate about social justice and helping other families in honor of Annelise’s life.
Kerry Janidlo (Vice-President)
Kerry Janidlo, with her husband Jason, are the parents to 2 little girls, Ava and Audrey. When they found out Kerry was pregnant with a little boy, Owen Chase Janidlo, all the 2 big sisters could talk about was getting to help take care of their little brother. On May 27, 2016, Kerry went into normal labor and everyone was so excited this was the day to meet their little guy. During delivery, complications arose and Owen became stuck. This caused his heart to stop and once finally delivered, CPR to bring him back to life. In those moments, Kerry’s life changed forever.
Owen was revived and sent to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to cool his body to decrease any brain damage caused from his cardiac arrest. Owen was stable for 4 days, but on the 4th day as they rewarmed his little body, he could fight no longer and Kerry and Jason decided to take him off life support and hold him for the first and only time.
Kerry is a trauma ICU RN. She has seen her share of traumatic incidents. Never would she have imagined this would be a road she would have to walk. The grief has broken Kerry in ways she could never prepare for. Even her faith has been shaken. She scoured the internet searching for people who understood the deep, physical pain she was feeling. The only thing that gave her any comfort was learning about and meeting other moms who were walking this same path. Knowing she wasn’t alone was and still is one of the few things that helps her survive.
After finding out the high infant mortality rate at the large birthing center in Columbus Ohio where Owen was born at, Kerry searched for ways to help other moms know that they were not alone in their grief either. Though this is a journey she would not choose, finding purpose in Owen’s life is the only way to bring healing. Kerry is ready to fervently and compassionately connect with other moms in any stage of grief. She is thankful to be a founding mom of Alive in My Heart.
Kerry has been given the gift of another little girl, their rainbow baby, Ashlyn. Daily she still struggles with the joy of having 3 girls and missing the little boy she will never know.
Elizabeth Yassenoff (Secretary)
Elizabeth and her husband Erik lost their firstborn son, Jacob Dale Yassenoff, when she went into labor at 39 weeks in July 2016. During labor, unexpected complications arose that caused Jacob to lose oxygen. He was born late at night on July 18, 2016 and passed away early in the morning on July 19, 2016 due to brain damage from being deprived of oxygen.
In the days and weeks after losing Jacob, Elizabeth found herself scouring the internet searching for words she could read that expressed what she was feeling. Whether through books, blogs, online forums, or meeting with other loss moms in person, Elizabeth found comfort in connecting with others who shared similar experiences. Elizabeth’s need for connection made her passionate about providing more opportunities for support and connection in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and she is so thankful to be a founder of Alive In My Heart.
Day by day, Elizabeth is working to learn her “new normal” of living this life carrying an immense love for her firstborn while being constantly aware of the Jacob-sized hole in her heart. She hopes to build a beautiful legacy for Jacob as she helps others in his name. Elizabeth’s background is in the law, as an attorney with experience in commercial transactions and general corporate counsel. In re-shaping her life after losing Jacob, she has become a Certified International Health Coach and works with clients individually and through group programs to identify values-based goals and work toward greater peace and joy in their lives. She and Erik welcomed Jacob’s little sister, Ella Jane, in August 2017. She has brought so much light to their lives, and will be raised always knowing about her big brother Jacob.