Kristi’s CHD Awareness
Due to the recent pandemic, things are a bit different than originally planned. We are not going to get to walk all together as I had hoped. I was hopeful that during the walk our team would join our families together to celebrate and raise awareness.
In light of this I would like to invite you to join me in running, walking or cheering us on and do a 10K (6.2 miles) on my birthday (July 11th)! I ask that you join my team on this site and donate at least $25 for Congenital Heart Disease awareness and resources in Peoria, IL. If you would like to join me physically that day let me know and I will let you know details on start time, etc. If you are not able to join me here please send me pictures of you completing your 10K, I’d also love to know when you plan to do it so I can cheer you on!!!
There is going to be an event on September 6th to celebrate the money that is raised and see the sponsors but given the circumstances we will not get to all walk together that day. More information on that will be on the main www.hoichdwalk.org site.
I am walking for a passion and would love to have friends and family join me in raising awareness and raising money.
The first time I heard anything about congenital heart disease (CHD) was when I was very young. My cousin was born with “half of a heart” when I was 8 years old. He was the same age as my little sister and I just remember that we would pray for him and knew he’d go to the hospital but I never remember thinking he looked sick. He ended up dying a day or two after surgery when he was three. Matthew’s funeral was so sad. I just remember seeing all of my big family crying and wondering why this had to happen. Matthew became an angel to our family and I still believe he continues to watch over me and has had a hand in guiding my career.
I became a nurse in 2000 and planned to care for kids my entire career. I moved around the country a bit as a traveling nurse until 2001 when I moved to Peoria, IL to be with the man of my dreams, Matt. We married in 2003. I was working at the Childrens Hospital of Illinois in the PICU where I began caring for kids with CHD and quickly realized this was exactly the patients and families I wanted to work with. I also realized that Peoria had something very special- a gem right in the middle of the country! Life took us to North Carolina and then to Texas for a few years after we got married.
In 2009 I became a nurse practitioner and began my NP career in the pediatric cardiac ICU in Dallas, TX. I absolutely loved my patients that challenged me every single day. After a few years in Dallas we decided that we really wanted to raise our kids back in the midwest and came back to Peoria. I knew that I wanted to work at the Childrens Hospital of Illinois with the congenital heart patients. I eventually accepted a position in the Congenital Heart Center. I became the nurse practitioner in the Adult Congenital Heart program and have loved caring for the same patients I cared for years before that have now grown up to be adults.
My favorite thing to do is spend time with my family. I have an amazing husband that supports all of my passions. We are blessed to have two fun kids, Samantha and Zachary, that keep us on our toes and laughing (most of the time). We keep very active and enjoy participating in local races and outdoor activities. We believe that physical activity is so important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and family. This is likely one reason being a part of a walk for CHD is so appealing.
Last year I realized that I was about half way through my career and during prayer I asked God if I’ve really made a difference. I believe I have made a difference in some patients and families, often during the most difficult times of their lives. But… God, is there anything that I’ve left a mark and truly made a difference? I find it hard that God doesn’t use words to answer those questions, rather he hands you opportunities. As I look back I think this may be why I got so involved in planning this walk.
I truly have a passion for caring for patients with CHD and am excited to expand this to creating an awareness outside of our clinic and hospital to the community to spread the word about my super heroes. Working with a wonderful team of passionate people we are creating a walk that will raise awareness in our community and provide a day for families, friends, caregivers and others to show these super heroes how amazing we know they are!!!
Please join me on the day of the walk! You can create your team, set a goal and come together to walk. Or, join my team and help me raise money to reach my goal. Or if you are not able to join us and just want to make a donation I will be very grateful. Thank you for your support!