MONMOUTH COUNTY – A local organization is making a big difference in little hearts as they hit the $1 million mark in contributions to congenital heart disease research.
Big Hearts to Little Hearts, a Monmouth County nonprofit formed in 2003, finally reached this major milestone with a recent $70,000 contribution to The Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Big Hearts to Little Hearts is dedicated to raising awareness and research funds for children born with congenital heart disease. According to their website, “congenital heart disease (CHD) is the #1 birth defect-related killer. Each year more children die from congenital heart defects than from all forms of pediatric cancer combined. There is no cure for any of the 40 types of defects, and little is known about what causes most of them.”
The grassroots organization was formed by local parents of a CHD patient who believed that more research needed to be done to cure this deadly disease.
“We are very motivated because we are parents of children suffering from CHD,” stated Lynne Accisano-Stanek of Farmingdale, parent and President of Big Hearts to Little Hearts, in a release. “We hope others join us. This could happen to anyone’s child. Together we are working for longer and more comfortable lives for all those with CHD – we call them ‘heart warriors’.”
Big Hearts has worked to help children far and wide, as well as those close to home, such as Bella from Jackson Township. Bella is a 13-year old born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, which means that her right atrium and right ventricle are underdeveloped. Bella has endured three heart surgeries already and doctors expect she will need a heart transplant soon enough.
Catherine Kern, Bella’s mother, stated in a release: “Bella now lives with a single ventricle, or ‘half a heart’…The work that Big Hearts has done gives us great hope that Bella and so many children like her will have a better alternative than transplant and will be able to survive for a long lifetime.”
With the $1 million in contributions Big Hearts has made to CHOP over time, the group has helped to kick start 25 initiatives at CHOP, including the Fetal Heart Program, Single Ventricle Care, Youth Heart Watch and Adult Congenital Heart Program, according to the organization. Some of the more recent contributions have gone to help create 3D models of tricuspid valves in CHD patients.
Not only has Big Hearts made some big changes in the local community, but their reach has extended all the way to Dr. Mark Rodefield in Indiana, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Brielle and Farmingdale Elementary Schools, and Manasquan Recreation Center.
“We are truly grateful to Big Hearts to Little Hearts for its ongoing support of the Cardiac Center at CHOP,” stated Joseph Rossano, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in the release. “The organization’s support will help power innovative treatments and breakthrough cardiac research.”
If you wish to join in the fight against CHD, Big Hearts will be hosting a Golf Outing fundraiser on May 20 at Jumping Brook Country Club.