2-year-old Making Big Impact for the American Heart Association

(hopeful guitar music) – We found out that we
were pregnant with Finn, we were very, very
excited that we were going to be able to give Mason a sibling. – That year, you’re
pregnant again, I’m like, “What are you talking about?” This was great. – When we went into the ultrasound, we went in really confident. – We were surprised when the tech, just without us really
probing her, she said, “I’m sorry to say this, but something’s wrong
with your baby’s heart.” – Of course, for us, it was devastating. – They discovered potential heart defects. When you hear heart defects,
your own heart sinks and you’re concerned about
what this means for your child. – We went to a couple
other doctors, they said, “I’m so sorry, this baby
isn’t going to make it.” Time after time, hearing, “He’s not going to make it,
he’s not going to make it,” we were devastated. It was a very, very, dark time not knowing what was going to happen. Finn was born at 9:01 in the morning. – Finn has four congenital heart defects. Instead of a normal four-chamber setup, he doesn’t have a clean
separations inside his heart. Outside of his heart, he’s
got abnormal connections. – He ended up having 10 surgeries, including the one open-heart surgery. Being in the hospital for that long, it was a roller coaster, and there were certain parts
where he was very critical, and certain parts where they didn’t know what the outcome would be. I would sleep in his room,
and every beep I hear, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s very difficult to
go through, emotionally, but at the same time, you’re seeing a baby just
fight every single day, no matter what challenges
face in front of him. We are very blessed that this past year there have been very limited times where he has been hospitalized. Any time anyone would say no, he would prove them wrong, and say, “No, I can, I can do
this, but on my own time.” Being able to witness that
was the amazing part of it. I was just looking for some things to do to bring awareness to CHD, and a private school
reached out to me and said, “Hey our school does Jump Rope For Heart, do you want to come and tell your story?” And, I went, and told
Finn’s story to the kids, and they responded really well. That got back to the
American Heart Association, and one of their representatives
reached out to me and said, “Would you be interested
in going to any others?” And I said, “Absolutely.” A lot of people don’t know that CHD, or congenital heart defects heart disease, is actually the number one
birth defect of babies. – Congenital heart defects in the US, as the rest of the
planet, have an incidence of about one in 100 live
births, or 10 per 1,000. There may be 800 to 1,000
kids born in Virginia with congenital heart defects every year. One of the important things that the American Heart Association does is provide research dollars
for young investigators for research in congenital heart disease that have its footings in pediatrics. – The American Heart
Association has opportunities for all schools of all ages to be able to participate and give back. We go to high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, preschools. – Put Finn in the car, and go there, and help spread CHD awareness, and let Finn show off his dance skills in a school gymnasium. – Our HeartChase event for the
American Heart Association, we set up 20 different
stations, or activities. Some of these are team-building games, nutrition activities, fitness stations, and it’s all based on learning
more about heart health, and how to be more physically active and what you can do to benefit your body. Kids come up to me all the time, “When is Finn gonna be here? “When is he gonna be here? “I gotta make sure I’m here,” “What do I have to wear?” They get excited to see him, so that’s a lot of fun for them. – Woah.
– Woah. – [Kelly] He has developed such
a personality from it, too. – Finn will sometimes ask us
on the weekends, he’ll say, “I wanna go dance with kids.” – He loves giving high-fives, and recently he’s been
really into giving hugs. He has a huge passion for it. – The American Heart
Association is a major funder for research for
cardiovascular risk reduction. Without the American Heart Association, a lot of critical research
would not be being done, and results that really educate the public on how to change behaviors and reduce risk wouldn’t be taking place. – Thank you, thank you, so much to the American Heart Association. We are the one’s who have Finn, but each of you, the donors, are actually the one
who are giving him life. Thank you for giving us the
opportunity to give back, to be able to spread awareness. Awareness is key, because the
awareness leads to funding, the funding leads to research, and the research is what leads
to hope for kids like Finn and families like ours. (bright, hopeful orchestral music)

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