I'm so excited & proud to once again be a Children's Champion for the Briggs & Al's Run & Walk for Children's Hospital! Unfortunately, we can't make the walk this year because I'm in NEW YORK for my job with Cutco! Eventhough we can't be in Milwaukee, it still is important for me to raise money for this special event as it is near & dear to my heart. After all, it is because of this amazing facility and staff that I am alive!! When we can coordinate schedules, we'll be doing a walk with family & friends near our home :)
Despite having a half of a heart, I don't let that stop me! I'm very active in church & community activities, play volleyball, help on our farm and of course enjoy adventures with my friends & family!! I have been grateful for the opportunity to travel on a mission trip to Peru in 2019 & look forward to when I can do that again. I'm in my 2nd year at UW-Stevens Point in business marketing & enjoy taking stats for football, volleyball, basketball, hockey, soccer, & baseball at UWSP.
For those that don't know the extent of my story, here it is...
I was born October 20, 2002. My parents said they knew about my special heart even before I was born - thanks to all of the medical equipment and knowledge of the doctors. I was born in Marshfield, and then flew down to Children's Hospital when I was 2 days old. At 4 days of age, I had the first of 3 open-heart surgeries to try to 're-plumb' my heart. I had these really long words to describe my heart defects.....Tricuspid Atresia & Transposition of the Great Arteries, plus some other holes in the heart. Basically, that means that my right ventricle never formed and my two main arteries were switched around.
I recovered well after that 1st surgery, except when we were leaving, they noticed a blood clot right in my heart. I was on oxygen for a few months until my next surgery at 3 months of age. Thankfully, during that time, nothing bad ever happened with that blood clot. I had some ups & downs throughout the next couple of years, but then in the summer of 2006, I had my 3rd (and hopefully FINAL) surgery. All of the repairs went quite well, however, I had one set-back, I ended up having a minor stroke when they were putting the blood back into my heart after surgery. (We didn't really know this until I started trying to walk...and my left leg just kept dropping & dragging.) I had to do a lot of work with my "Sassy Leg" to get it to cooperate again. All of the physical therapy has worked out great & I continue to do it as needed!!! It gets tired more easily, but that's just something I get used to. It also helps to receive foot massages from a certain massage therapist I know (Mom)!
I will always have a 2-chambered heart instead of 4, but I certainly don't let that stop me. Many are surprised to hear of my condition, because I am able to keep up pretty well with everyone. I just take my breaks whenever my body tells me to do so. Everyday is a new adventure, an opportunity to learn new things, grow & have fun with my family and friends.
Throughout all of my time at Children's Hospital, the care I received there was PHENOMENAL!!! The doctors, nurses & everyone on staff were AWESOME to myself and my family. They made me feel not so scared to be in a hospital.
All of these experiences have taught me to have more compassion for others. I'm always trying to find more ways to lend a helping hand or make someone feel better if they need cheering up. Another way that my family & I have chosen to help others is by raising money for this special run & walk. We have become HUGE Supporters of the Hospital & hope to raise money for the Herma Heart Center portion of the Hospital. Absolutely 100% of the pledges raised goes directly to the Hospital to provide much needed medical equipment, train future medical staff, and support research & education programs that help kids get well & stay healthy. Many kids with heart disease go on to live quite normal lives. It is only recently that there has been some success in the most complex heart defects (like mine). The success rate has improved so much over the years, that Children's Hospital is now adding an Adult Congenital Heart Program to help people who have lived with heart defects from childhood learn about their bodies into adulthood! I met with a Congenital Heart Doctor at CHW this past February since I'm now an 'Adult'!!
Each year, CHW admits more than 3,000 patients to the Critical Care program which provides highly specialized care to critically ill children of all ages, from newborns to adolescents. As one of the largest pediatric programs of its type in the country, they have 72 pediatric critical care beds and serve as a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, certified by the American College of Surgeons.
My family & I can't thank you enough for supporting us in this Special Event ---- and don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to learn about this outstanding cause too!!! I can make a real difference for an organization making a real difference for kids. If you have it in your heart to help, please donate now.