All funds will be dedicated to the Cardiology Dept. at Shaare Zedek in memory of my father Hanan Ben Shulamit Z”L.

Please help me reach my goal of $18,000. Amount raised so far: $6710.

As I train for my half marathon for Shaare Zedek Medical Center and contemplate a cause to focus on, I realize my strong desire to raise awareness and hope for children born with congenital heart defects and young parents of those affected by this. Given the cardio-intensive nature of this event, I find it the perfect opportunity to tell my story and give hope.

I was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a rare and complex heart defect that occurs in about 5 of every 10,000 newborns. TOF is made up of a combination of four structural heart defects that alter the normal blood flow through the heart and result in the baby’s heart being unable to provide enough oxygen to the rest of the body. As a result, affected newborns require open-heart surgery to fix these underlying issues.

I don’t remember much because I was an infant, but I do know this was extremely hard on my parents to witness their child undergo serious open-heart surgery at just weeks old, not knowing what the lasting effects would be from this condition. After my surgery, things were looking very positive and I recovered properly. All was going well until I was 20 when I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe and Hatzalah rushed me to NYU Hospital. They ran a battery of tests on me, including an EKG and echocardiogram, and concluded that one of my heart valves was not working properly, which commonly occurs in TOF patients unfortunately. I underwent a second open-heart surgery to replace the valve and Baruch Hashem made a full recovery.

Training for this marathon has made me realize how far I’ve come. Despite what I was born with, I am now able to exert myself during 40-mile bike tours, take spin classes, run for Hatzolah calls as an EMT myself, play soccer regularly, and ski at high altitudes with my son, bli ayin hara.

Recently, a family member approached me about a friend who found out her baby was also born with a congenital heart defect. My family member was able to reassure this mother by retelling my story. When this mother heard I am now training for a marathon, it gave her the hope that she needed to know that her child would be okay and could persevere later in life. I suddenly realized that my story can perhaps provide inspiration for others.

To all the parents who are struggling with a child born with TOF or any other congenital heart disease, I am your living, running, active, and healthy proof that you should have hope. Take a deep breath and imagine the future of your child playing sports or going for a run. It is not impossible and there is truly so much that your child can and will accomplish thanks to the help of medical technology and advancements. With the funds that I raise from this, I will donate the proceeds towards various technologies, such as an EKG and Defibrillator to benefit the cardiology department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Any support will go a long way in helping those born with congenital heart defects live healthy lives and also achieve their goals