Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 American Heart Association Heart Gala

January 24, 2015 was one of the most special nights Tyler and I have ever had together. It was incredibly memorable, to say the least. We were invited to the American Heart Association's Annual Heart Gala and were considered guests of honor. About 6 weeks before the event the AHA interviewed Tyler and me in our home and made a 4 minute video of our family's journey with Max's congenital heart block and what the AHA means to us. They wanted to play it during the "giving" portion of the night and have it kick off the live auction. We were so honored that they asked us and very excited to attend the event. The AHA gave us 4 tickets, so Mom and Dad were very excited to join us!

Well, here I am all dressed up at 39.2 weeks pregnant. I wasn't sure if I would make it, but I really didn't want to miss this special night. 

The boys enjoying cocktail hour at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

I'm so glad my mom and dad could join us for this special event

Our table was on the stage and overlooked everyone else. It was fun to sit there and people watch.

The Beech Buccaneer Drum Line was part of the entertainment. I couldn't believe it because that's where I went to high school. They were super impressive!

And then there was Bear...
Part of the reason we were asked to come to this event was because of the relationship we have with Paul and Beth Frankenberg and Bear. 

Here is a picture of Paul and Bear after having his heart surgery in the 1970's. His parents gave the bear to him. Paul continues to let people he knows having heart surgery borrow Bear to help make them brave. The Frankenbergs let Max borrow the bear for his surgery last August when he had his pacemaker replaced. Max absolutely loved this idea and we felt so fortunate to have Bear with us for a time.

Beth and Paul Frankenberg, the chairmen of the Heart Gala

We met Beth and Paul a few years ago after they saw our article in the newspaper featuring Max. They contacted us because they knew we were raising funds for the AHA Heart Walk. Paul was diagnosed with a heart issue in the 1970's and the doctor told his parents there was nothing they could do for him and to take him home and enjoy what time they had with him. His parents got a second opinion and a physician at another hospital believed he could help and did surgery on Paul's heart. As if that wasn't enough of a gift, an anonymous person paid the remainder of Paul's medical bills after his surgery. As an adult, Paul decided he wanted to "pay it forward" and make a difference in someone else's life. That family was ours. Paul and Beth made a generous donation to our Heart Walk team and we've kept up with each other ever since. 


Then, they played the video of the interview we did for the AHA. It was played during the "giving" portion of the evening in order to kick off the live auction. The video told our family's story, Max's story, and what the AHA means to us. 

There is so much emotion in this slide. The first picture is of Max with Bear after he had his surgery in August. The last picture is all three of us holding hands right before Max was discharged from the hospital. It was a rough few days for sure, so it was a symbol that we made it through together. The middle picture is of Max wearing his superhero cape and holding Bear with his matching cape. As a thank you to the Frankenbergs, I made a superhero cape for Bear that matches Max's cape. We presented it to Beth and Paul at the Gala.

As if the night wasn't special enough, every car at the event that night had this picture of Max inside. The message on the back thanked them for donating to the AHA and explained that families like ours directly benefit from their donations. 

We left the Gala that night even more proud to be Max's parents than we already were. We can't wait to see the difference he makes in other's lives as he grows. 

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