The “Home Run For Life” series returns for 2019 as the Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health partner to recognize their first honoree of the season — six-year-old Braxton Shields — Friday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Braxton Shields to Celebrate Home Run for Life Friday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark


Braxton ShieldsThe “Home Run For Life” series returns for 2019 as the Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health partner to recognize their first honoree of the season — six-year-old Braxton Shields — Friday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Shields is living with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes thick and has increased difficulty pumping blood. His brother Jeremy suffered from an enlarged heart and passed away from the condition at just 17 months old. Luckily their mother, Ashley Lee, was quick to recognize similar symptoms in Braxton. Her instincts and the emergency care Braxton received at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center helped save his life prior to his official diagnosis at the age of one.

“Home Run For Life” recognizes individuals in the Oklahoma City community who have overcome a significant medical event with the help of their families, physicians and health care professionals. To symbolize the end of their battle against adversity, honorees take a home run “lap” around the bases during an in-game ceremony.

“Five times a season we are proud to welcome these extraordinary Oklahomans to take the field at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark,” OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “This is the ninth straight year we have partnered with INTEGRIS Health to honor these amazing individuals’ perseverance and courage to overcome major health challenges.”

Shields totes energy, excitement and a big smile with him when he walks into a room. His favorite toys include race cars and monster trucks. He can rattle off the names of 10 different dinosaurs. He looks like another healthy kindergarten student ready to take on the world. But scans of his heart and heartbeat show a different story. 

“If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know,” Lee said about her son’s condition. “That’s what his doctor was saying about cardiomyopathy. The kids don’t look sick on the outside, but his EKG and his echo(cardiogram) show there is something wrong.”

Flashback several years to when Lee’s first son Jeremy appeared to have come down with a severe stomach virus.

“We took him to the ER in central Oklahoma and he just progressively got worse,” Lee said. “We were admitted waiting on his pediatrician. Well, we didn’t get that far. She got there when he was coding and I knew when they were getting us alone that they were telling us he was dying.”

Jeremy suffered from an enlarged heart and tragically passed away before he turned 1½ years old. Two days after his bother Braxton was born, an echocardiogram showed his heart was in good health.
“It was a perfect baby heart,” Lee said. “Braxton grew just the way he was supposed to and he was advanced at everything. He sat up, walked and talked earlier than he was supposed to.”

Then at church one morning after his first birthday, Braxton appeared to be suffering from a terrible stomach virus. Lee had a sinking feeling. Braxton displayed the same symptoms as Jeremy and Lee drove to the emergency room at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Soon they were in the care of Emergency Room Physician David Fish, M.D. 

“I went in there and said he’s in heart failure,” Lee said. “They were like, ‘ma’am, ma’am,’ because I am sure all of these people come in with their kids saying crazy stuff to getJeremy Shields them seen. Once I told her how I knew he was in heart failure she got up, went and got a triage nurse and we were checked in and seeing Dr. Fish immediately. That, I think, is in turn what saved his life — that it was all so quick.”

An X-ray showed Shields had an enlarged heart.

“Finding that 1 in 10,000 patient who has vomiting who also has heart failure is really difficult, which is why it is important to listen and the mom certainly helped us cue into that,” he said. “The other thing I remember that gave us a clue about Braxton, he was in some respiratory distress…so that gave us a clue something else was going on here.”

Today, Shields is full of life. His condition is manageable with medication and regular checkups. His heart is back to normal size and is functioning well.

“Without Dr. Fish and his team at the INTEGRIS Health Emergency Department our lives would be very different,” Lee said. “I would have buried both of my sons and would be visiting two headstones instead of one.”