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CHAMP Graduation!

Some time ago I wrote a post about the CHAMP Program at Levine Children’s Hospital (read it here:  Long story short, the CHAMP Program was designed by the heart team as an effort to keep heart babies healthy and surviving during the period between the Norwood Procedure and the Glenn Procedure (aka the Interstage).  From Feb 13, 2013 to August 7, 2013, we weighed Nolan everyday, read his pulse ox, and recorded it in a binder.  After the Glenn Procedure was complete, we were told we could throw the binder away.  Did we throw it away?  Absolutely not, but it was a great feeling to know he was past this point and on to bigger things!

Well yesterday was a very exciting day as we got to bring Nolan and join in with 5 or 6 other families to celebrate our little heart warriors with a CHAMP Graduation ceremony at Levine Children’s Hospital! 


The Ceremony was a lot of fun: we got to see all of our friends from the LCH staff, including Nolan’s absolute fav nurse:


And even Dr. Maxey, who did Nolan’s Glenn Procedure:


It really makes a heart daddy proud to hear everyone gush about how well your little one looks.  It’s always great to get the opportunity to see everyone when it’s NOT for an appointment or, even worse, an admission of some sort.  It was really good to meet other heart families as well: some who we’ve met before, some who we’ve been communicating with on Facebook, and some who have even read this blog (I was genuinely touched by that).  I think it’s good to get heart families together like that so we can continue to encourage each other…and show of our little monsters too!  Of course, another cool thing was having Greg Olsen in our class as well, since his son finished the CHAMP program just before Nolan did.  I can’t say it enough, but it’s always really cool getting to chat with Greg: he takes the time to talk with everyone and be the best help possible.  I know he leads an incredibly busy life (and man, did the Panthers have an awesome year or what?!), but he always takes the time to talk, and I always enjoy it:


Nolan also got some media love that day (check it out on his facebook page:  He was loving all the attention, I know that’s for sure!

Overall it was an awesome time, and it was a great honor to meet all the other awesome families:


Most importantly, though, I’m really glad we all got to do it as a family:



So congrats to all the CHAMP Grads!  Onward to bigger things!  Get a job!  Just kidding.

Greg Olsen? Greg Olsen!

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers


So why on earth am I blogging about football in the middle of this blog?  I mean I barely pay attention to football in general, much less the hometown Carolina Panthers.  But one day I was surfing the interwebs at home and came across an article in the Charlotte Observer about Greg Olsen, whose wife was pregnant with twins, and how they found out one of their babies would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  WHAT?!  How amazing is it that someone as notable as the tight end for the Panthers would be going through the exact same thing as I was?  Greg’s twins were about 2 months ahead of ours, so I was going to see things unfold in someone else’s life before I had to go through the same experience myself.  I give Greg Olsen and his wife Kara a lot of credit for doing that interview (and several more eventually).  I wouldn’t blame that family one bit for keeping to themselves to try to cope with things, but they faced it head-on, and in the process became a voice for HLHS families across America…just like mine.  Another good thing is that it goes to show that congenital heart defects – and HLHS – can occur in ANYONE.  Rich, poor, athletic, lazy, you name it…it happens, and I promise you for Greg, finding out about an HLHS diagnosis was just as rough as it was for me.

I’d link you directly to the article I read, but the Charlotte Observer no longer has free online viewing of their paper, so here’s another great story and video from