CHD Survivor Connor Keyes of Topsham
The American Heart Association (AHA) in Maine hosted its first-ever “Little Heart Hero Day” on October 25th. Close to 100 people from across the state gathered for family fun and networking at the Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta. What did these families have in common? A child with a congenital heart defect (CHD) has touched their lives.
Heart defects are the leading birth defect in Maine children. The AHA launched this event to help bring families together who may have otherwise never met to share their experiences and stay connected as they continue their journeys. Special thanks to our planning committee: Megan Allen, Mindy Beyer, April Green, and Liz Roy.
This event featured an update from Representative Henry Beck (Waterville) and AHA volunteer/CHD mom Megan Allen on Winslow on Maine’s new policy which requires all Maine newborns be screened for heart defects. Representative Matthew Pouliot (Augusta), a CHD survivor, also addressed the crowd about a new bill he sponsored that requires all Maine high school students to be trained in Hands-Only CPR.
Country musician Mark Gentle of Farmington performed Carter’s Song, which he wrote for his son who is a CHD survivor. Mark and his family were featured on The Today Show as well as Rachael Ray last year after their son Carter’s photograph of his heart scars went viral with an outpouring of support receiving 1.7 million likes
All Heart Heroes (survivors of congenital heart defects) received special red capes. Many children painted a heart canvas using their footprint or handprint to bring home. In addition, children enjoyed pumpkin decorating, face painting, a balloon artist, and a make-your-own healthy snack bag station with local nutritionist Lori Kaley. AHA staff demonstrated Hands-Only CPR techniques.
The AHA would like to make this an annual event. Please email Brenda Vitali at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-289-2387 if you would like to be involved.