The Heartwalk is a very special event for our family. Last weekend was our fourth walk, and I can't even believe that we have been on this journey for almost 4 years! I love seeing the changes in Andrew from each year. That first year as a precious baby (2007), just before his major open heart surgery. Then the next year, we celebrated his successful surgery as he was the Heartwalk Ambassador (in 2008). Last year was the first year he could actually walk in "his" Heartwalk (2009). And this year? This year is just an incredible year to celebrate, because Andrew has been able to go almost 3 years without surgery! We think that is a pretty big accomplishment.
You know, considering we've been expecting it for the past two summers!
To say we are thrilled would be an understatement.
The walk last weekend was a huge success! We had lots of family and friends walk with us again, and it is always such an honor to be accompanied by all the people who love us and love Andrew.
There were a TON of people there this year! Way more than last year, since last year it rained! This year it was pretty hot, but not too bad. It was a picture perfect day.
Grandpa and Grandma...
and countless others were there to support Andrew!
Before the walk began, they called all the survivors to the stage. They were the ones wearing the red hats (Andrew and I are on the far left). There were lots of adults, but also quite a few CHD survivors out there! What a miracle!
Andrew rode in the wagon most of the time. I love how his hat was covering his whole face! Ha!
Grandma walking with Evie. Also, behind them is Andrew's former speech therapist, Lori. We always loved her and we hated to leave there! It was so sweet, she brought her whole family to the walk!
Andrew was playing "daddy" to Lilly's baby that she brought! Ha!
This year after the walk, we had so much fun! They had inflatable slides and jumping houses for the kids, face painting, balloon animals, etc. This was the first year that Andrew was able to really enjoy those things.
He even waited patiently in line, which is unheard of for him! Ha! He is just getting to be such a big boy, I can't believe it.
Andrew and Lilly had a blast together! They were dancing to the music and having a ball! We are so blessed to have such special friends. Andrew just loves Lilly's daddy, Kevin.
This is another special friend, Greg, and his son Landon. Greg and I taught together for about 8 years at my old school, and I will never again have as good of a time with a group of teachers as I had those years. They defined my teaching career, and that is what it's all about. I looked forward to going to school every day. It really meant a lot to me to have Greg come. He brought his two sons with him by himself since his wife was working! Now that is real friendship!
Me with my little survivor! I'm so proud of him!
Andrew and Lilly in the jumpy house!
Andrew loved the giant heart this year for the first time! He couldn't stop giving it high fives and hugs!
Grandma walking down the capitol steps with Andrew & Jayden
My little survivor
I love these pictures by the capitol. I think this is such a neat place to have the walk.
This is our 2010 team. Many of the same people come out to walk with us every year, which we love. And each year there are some new walkers which is great too! Ga Ga & Papa, Grandpa & Grandma, Aunt Joan, Uncle Jay, Auntie Rachel, Evie & Jayden, Aunt Barb & Uncle Tim, Kevin, Alissa & Lilly, Greg, Landon & Logan, and Lori and Darin and their girls. Thanks to everyone who came out to walk with us!
Andrew is so excited to share the total amount we raised...
That is amazing. In the past we have been able to raise more money online, but this year everyone decided to write checks to be donated specifically to congenital heart defects. So for the first time, all of that money will be donated directly to Legacy of Life, which is an endowment fund through the American Heart Association specifically designed to fund research and education of CHD's. Unfortunately, online donations can't be directed toward CHD's, because that is the best way to raise funds. However, I was so excited every time I went to the mailbox the past few weeks! Every day there were several checks for Legacy of Life coming in, and I was so excited! It was like opening the mail at Christmastime and finding lots of Christmas cards!
Here are the kids that walked with us. Evie, Andrew, Jayden, Lilly & Landon
They loved this fountain by the capitol.
Finally it was time to head home to celebrate!
Andrew's aunt Karen made our cakes and they were delicious!
She is so talented! The cakes are so delicious!
And look at the little surprise inside! The kids were soooooo excited!
Waiting to cut the cake!
Andrew got 4 candles for his fourth heartwalk. He blew every single one of them out! We really consider the Heartwalk Andrew's other birthday. It is a day to celebrate the success of all his surgeries, caths, and procedures. A day to remember his special heart.
All the kids eating lunch!
It was even nice enough for us to put the umbrella up outside and eat on the deck! Awesome!
It was another perfect day. It is such an honor to be Andrew's mommy and to see the amazing support for him through our family and friends. So many people love Andrew, and it is just overwhelming. I could never thank everyone enough. Whether you donated to the walk, came to walk with us, or just care enough to follow our blog, I thank you. We have an incredible support system.
And we are so blessed.
*I will still take donations for another week, if you still wish to donate. I haven't sent the envelope in yet. Please email me for my address (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to donate. You make the checks out to the American Heart Association and in the subject line write "Legacy of Life." Thank you!