We are very excited to partner with Athletes for Hearts, Inc. as our not-for-profit 501(c)(3) partner! A portion of proceeds from a variety of events throughout the festival will support this great organization.
Below is an overview of what Athletes for Hearts, Inc is all about, and how they are changing lives. For full details and to get involved in this great cause, please visit their website.
Imagine the excitement and emotions of holding your first newborn baby. Maybe you couldn’t admit it verbally, but deep down inside you were hoping for a boy or perhaps a little girl, but all you mostly wanted was to take home a happy healthy baby.
More families than you might imagine never get to experience that sensation as they see their child for the first time. They are instead presented with the trauma of not having delivered a healthy baby, and when faced with that news the world stops for them and their circle of friends. This shocking news was exactly what Keith Overton received in 1995 when he and his wife delivered the first of their four children. MacKenzie Overton was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which basically meant the left ventricle of her heart never developed properly or fully.
Diagnosed with only a five percent chance for survival, the Overtons were faced with very difficult choices. They could do nothing and let MacKenzie pass away, elect to have her undergo a series of surgeries called the Norwood Procedure or have her placed on a waiting list with the hopes of receiving a heart transplant. When considering those options … the potential quality of life was a significant consideration. The decision was made to attempt a heart transplant at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, one of the top two neonatal transplant facilities at that time. On the 17th day of MacKenzie’s young life, word was received that a heart had become available and was in route. Considering that most fatalities to children in need of a heart transplant occur due to the long waiting period, MacKenzie was indeed blessed and fortunate. The heart transplant was successful and MacKenzie returned home to Florida just a few weeks later.
MacKenzie’s medical care continues to be performed by the team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. While daily medicines must be administered and frequent tests need to be performed, MacKenzie leads the life of a normal young adult. With minimal restrictions on any physical activities, MacKenzie enjoyed many successes as a young female athlete. Her love for competitive fast-pitch softball was the impetus for the creation of Athletes for Hearts, Inc. She now is a certified scuba diver, a licensed boat captain, a JetLev Flight instructor, works full-time at TradeWinds Island Resorts and attends college.
As a result of financial limitations prohibiting proper medical treatment, so many families will not experience the good fortune that MacKenzie has been blessed with. Athletes for Hearts, Inc., is on a mission to ensure that any child needing medical care for a heart-related condition not only receives the opportunity to survive and overcome a life-threatening heart defect, but is afforded the chance to flourish in life.
Each year Athletes for Hearts, Inc., strives to conduct events and sports tournaments in its fundraising efforts to support these children with heart defects and their families. We are supported through volunteerism only! We have no paid employees and no overhead. As a result, this philosophical approach allows 100% of our donations raised to go directly to the kids and families facing a life-threatening heart-related issue.