John Olerud's daughter Jordan, born with a rare chromosome disorder, dies at 19

Jordan Olerud inspired her parents to become activists for other parents raising kids with special needs.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alyssa Newcomb

Jordan Olerud, the daughter of former MLB All-Star John Olerud, has died at 19 years old after living with a rare chromosome disorder since birth.

The heartbreaking news was confirmed in a tweet by Jay Horwitz, vice president of alumni public relations for the New York Mets, where Olerud played from 1997 to 1999.

Jordan, who was the middle child in the Olerud family, was born in August 2000 with a unique chromosome syndrome called tri-some 2p, 5p- which means she had an extra second chromosome and was missing part of her fifth chromosome.

As a result, Jordan didn't reach milestones at the same time as other children her age and required special care from Olerud and his wife, Kelly.

"It definitely makes it difficult to play baseball," Olerud told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2002. "What happened with Jordan was a lot of work. The last month of the 2000 season was the hardest. The team (Seattle Mariners) was in a pennant race, and Kelly had her hands full when I wasn't around."

The family's experience caring for a child with special needs led them to become activists.

They started the Jordan Fund in 2003 to help support other families caring for special needs children. Olerud, who was a two-time World Series champion with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993, retired from baseball in 2005.

Over the years, the fund has given grants to individual families to help handle costs that aren't covered by insurance, such as respite care, therapy and equipment. The Jordan Fund also helps large organizations and funds projects. In 2014, the Jordan Fund donated $50,000 to Inspiration Playground to help create an all-inclusive playground in Bellevue, Washington.

Through the years, John and Kelly Olerud have spoken candidly about what it is like to raise a child with special needs. In 2005 the year Olerud retired, he told the Boston Globe how much Jordan inspired him.

"I'm constantly amazed at her disposition. She’s uncomfortable, she’s having a hard time... but yet, she’s got a smile for you," he said. "I'm really blessed to have a child like her."