My journey with CHD started about 4 months into my wife’s pregnancy with our first daughter. Charlotte was diagnosed with CHD before she was born, but after a normal birth her condition was monitored for the first year of her life. During the pregnancy and first year and a half of Charlotte’s life I was serving as the head engineer officer on a US nuclear submarine, conducting deployments several times in this period. When Char was 18 months I transferred to shore duty and a more stable home life. This was when we found out Charlotte’s condition was going to require open heart surgery to repair. We were fortunate to have Wolfson’s Childrens Hospital near us in Jacksonville, Fl. The team did excellent work with Charlotte and she recovered like a champion, walking out of the hospital on her own after 5 days. After 2 and a half years of follow up Charlotte is doing excellent and the repairs to her heart look like life long fixes. She still has some genetic heart issues that are prevalent amount the women on my wife’s side of the family.
As I advanced in the Navy my physical health started taking a back seat. With more responsibility, longer hours, and spending any free time I could with my new family I started to fall down the standard American path to heart disease. At 6’3” my weight was nearly 250 lb, my blood pressure was starting to elevate, my cholesterol was not good and I was barely able to pass the Navy physical fitness testing. While Charlotte was in the hospital I decided that the rest of my life had to be dedicated to living a heart healthy lifestyle. Charlotte needed a role model, not someone telling her to do as I say not as I do. After much research and reflection I decided to go plant based, take up running and triathlon, and be committed to being a life long learner about health and fitness, especially as it related to heart health. During the last 2.5 years I have gotten my weight steady around 190 lbs, an excellent blood pressure, and have a excellent blood work according to my doctors. I have participated in many triathlons and road races, this year I have two half-iron man distance events and several marathons.
During this journey both my wife and I have committed to a plant based lifestyle, as has many of our extended family. Charlotte is four years old and full of life. She has a personality that fills any room she is in, bringing joy to all those around her...most of the time! Her little sister idolizes Char, mimicking her in every way possible. Our experience with CHD has truly made both our immediate and extended family healthier and helped bring awareness to those less fortunate than us. We are committed to helping families in similar situations and helping to raise awareness to treat CHD wherever it may be.
I am so honored to be running to raise money for CHD in a race that is part of my earliest memories as a child growing up in NYC. Three years ago I would never thought I could do this race, but with Chalotte as my inspriation I have turned my life around. Please help me raise money for this great charity, who’s Story is below.
The Children’s Heart Foundation is the country's leading organization solely dedicated to funding research for congenital heart defects (CHD’s). Congenital heart defects are America’s most common birth defect - nearly 40,000 babies (or approximately 1% of all births) are born with congenital heart defects each year in the U.S.
The Children’s Heart Foundation was founded by Betsy and Steve Peterson after their 8-year-old son, Sam, died of multiple organ failure brought on by a sudden heart-related collapse. Sam was born with complex CHD’s and had Sam been born 20 years earlier, he would not have survived at all. During his short life, Sam proved that medical research and technology could conquer congenital heart defects, if only for a short while.
It’s through continued research that children born with congenital heart defects have a chance to survive – which is why CHF is dedicated to funding this critical research. The Children’s Heart Foundation’s mission is to fund the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects. Since 1996, CHF has funded more than $11.1 million of research.
Although CHD’s are the most common cause of infant death due to birth defects, research for congenital heart defects remains grossly under-funded relative to the prevalence of the disease. Because of medical advancements made through research, death rates from congenital heart defects in the U.S. have declined by 37.5% since 1999 but we need to do more. It is our hope that by funding more research, we will live a world in which all babies born with congenital heart defects live long, healthy lives, and that eventually, congenital heart defects will be eradicated altogether.