Monday, May 10, 2010


Normally I am not a procrastinator.  At least, not about things that matter to me.  I don't wait until the last minute for anything.  I hate change.  I thrive on plans, order and consistency.  I am not exactly spontaneous, and my life has always been planned out well in advance.

You can imagine how this journey as a heart mom has thrown me for a major loop.

Let's just say I've learned a few things the past three years.
One thing I have learned is that I want to make a difference.  Before life with Andrew began, I didn't truly have a purpose.  Sure, I always felt my purpose in life was to be a teacher.  A mother.  Discover my God given talents and run with them... Don't get me wrong.  Those are all still great purposes in my life and I love doing all of those things.  But something was missing.  I had never had a reason to fight for something I believed in.  Heck, I don't know that before Andrew I even had anything I felt that strongly about supporting.  I don't think I knew what it meant to actually support something.  And see it make a change right before my eyes.
The moment my son was wheeled down the hall for his first of many open heart surgeries, my purpose became clear.  And it was to fight for my son.  Fight to find a cure for congenital heart defects and strive to make a difference in the lives of babies born with a CHD every day.

Then the overwhelming feeling set in.  I admit, I still feel it sometimes.  I am only one person.  Sure, there are wonderful support groups and other families fighting.  But it just doesn't feel BIG enough sometimes.  I want the world to know about CHD's and how much they change lives.  How every day innocent babies die from CHD's and how every one out of 100 babies is born with a CHD.  How can people not know about that?  How did I not know about it?

The truth is, people don't typically know about it unless it's happened to them.
I've had to focus on the fact that even though I am only one person, I can still spread awareness.  I can still ask for support.  I can teach others about CHD's and how it has affected my life and our little family.  And maybe, just maybe, one more person will learn that didn't know about it before.  One more person will decide to join the fight.  And eventually we can all make a difference.  Together.

So...will you join me?

Will you do it for him?
Now, let me just briefly explain my reason for procrastinating this.  I'll say it as simply as I can.  The American Heart Association has always been near and dear to my heart.  The past three years, you know, since it became my purpose, I have organized teams of walkers and all of us together have raised over $7,000 total.  All in honor of Andrew.  I am so humbled by that.

In the last couple of years, however, I have learned that only a fraction of every penny raised online actually goes towards congenital heart defects.  That just isn't good enough for me.  I wanted more for our children.  I have been trying to research and come up with a way to support my cause while still honoring Andrew by walking in the Heartwalk.  To me, that day is as important as his birthday.  It is a day we celebrate him.  His accomplishments and milestones, and since his very first walk I have said that we will continue to walk every single year.  Every year I have a little party afterwards for the walkers on our team and we have lunch and cake and celebrate Andrew.

And you know how much I hate change. 

I have looked into another organization called the Children's Heart Foundation.  One hundred percent of the funds raised goes directly to CHD's.  This is a wonderful organization that is currently putting together a documentary and lobbying in Washington D.C., taking all those letters that us heart families wrote originally intended for Oprah.  Well, Oprah didn't want to hear us, but maybe Obama will!

The catch?  The Children's Heart Foundation doesn't have a "walk."  And how can I raise money for one organization and walk for another?  The pieces just weren't fitting together.

Then I discovered something else (with the help of some other heart moms).  The American Heart Association supports something called Legacy of Life.  Legacy of Life is the American Heart Association’s Endowment Fund for congenital heart defect research.   It provides a perpetual funding source for Congenital Heart Defects research. 

The catch? (Because isn't there always a catch??)  The funds you donate online are not able to be applied towards Legacy of Life (LOL- not "Laugh out Loud" this time!).  You can only contribute to LOL by writing a check to the American Heart Association and writing "Legacy of Life" in the subject line in the bottom left corner of your check.  

So this year I am going to propose making somewhat of a change (gasp!  I know!)  But I'll leave it up to you.  Last year, our team, Act for Andrew, raised over $2500.  That is going to be my goal again.  We have about a month to do it (that is about 4 months less than last year!  Yikes!)  But I know it can be done.  I am going to count every donation made into our total towards the goal.
You can choose how you'd like to support us:

1.  Write a check and send it directly to the American Heart Association.  Make sure to print out a donation form online (go under the "tools" tab) and write Legacy of Life in the subject line.  You can also send your check to me (without the donation form).  Please email me at for my address.

2.  Maybe your donation is in honor of someone else you know and love who has been affected by heart disease or stroke, and you wish for your donation to go towards the AHA, not specifically to CHD's.  Great!  That is wonderful and we still appreciate every donation made in honor of Andrew.  Also, donating online is simple and all you have to do is click here.  Just remember, your online donation doesn't count towards CHD research.

3.  Write a check made out to the Children's Heart Foundation.  (You can also click there to view the documentary pilot that our good friends the Jacks family are a part of!)  Because I still believe it is an amazing organization that is out there to help our kids and fight CHD's.  These checks you'll need to send directly to me.  Please email me at for my address.

Any way you choose to support us means the world to our family.  Of course, we would love for you to join our team and walk with us on June 19th!  Just go to Andrew's heartwalk website and sign up to join our team!  There is no fee to walk with us but if you choose to, you can also set up your own donation page and ask co-workers and family for support.  Together, we can make a difference!
Act for Andrew- 2009!


Tracey Snyder said...


I was with you on the "do I / don't I" delima until we were able to do Legacy of Life fundraising. We were able to raise half or money for LOL which I was ok with! I have other family memebers who are dealing with heart issues who also benefit from what AHA does (including Jeremy's Dad).

As for the Children's Heart Foundation~I agree that we need to find a way to raise money for them too! Hummmmmm....the wheels are spinning....

Tracey, Jeremy, Riley, Drew and Jordan Snyder

Stefenie said...

Well said Jen! I know we have talked lots about this very subject. I am glad that you have finally found a way to do what you feel is purposeful and raising money for the kids!

Olivia said...

Thanks for the update. Sometimes I too still feel that I am only oen voice, but that I do want to make a difference. I wonder why no one knows about CHD and why no one seems to pay attention....

Thank goodness for legacy of life. It always bothered me that so much of the money we were raising didnt go to the very children we were raising it for.

The Spencers

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