Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Profile
American Heart Association
Kids with Heart Program

October 01, 2011

Just five hours after he was born, Dylan Nichols was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Born without a pulmonary valve, Dylan underwent heart surgery when he was just three days old. He had a second, open-heart procedure eight months later.

Fast forward three years and Dylan is one of the American Heart Association’s first Kids with Heart, a group of young heart survivors and their families who share their experiences in local schools as part of the association’s Jump Rope For Heart program.

“Jump Rope For Heart has been teaching kids how to take care of their hearts and helping kids with special hearts for more than 30 years,” said Jennifer Nanny, youth market director for 19 counties in Indiana. “Many times the students who participate don’t realize that one of their fellow students has been dramatically impacted by heart disease. Bringing these brave young heart hero’s stories to light helps educate the public that heart disease can strike anyone.”

More than 1.4 million Americans are living with a congenital heart defect. Last year, the American Heart Association committed $9.39 million to fund pediatric heart research.

“The advances that have been made in the area of research and education funded by the American Heart Association are helping us close in on our 2020 goal of a 20 percent reduction in deaths from heart disease and stroke, as well as a 20 percent improvement in the lives of those living with heart disease and stroke,” Nanny said. “We have much to celebrate as we look into the faces of these brave young kids who now have a chance at a long and healthy life.”

The American Heart Association is seeking additional local youth who are heart survivors to serve as ambassadors for the organization through Kids with Heart. Members receive a special Heart Hero Kit.

Students interested in joining Kids with Heart should have their parents contact Sunni Rossi at sunni.rossi@heart.org. Additional information is also available at www.heart.org/kidswithheart.