Guest Blogger: American Heart Association’s 2013 Little Heart Hero Ambassador Nick Kelling and His Mom Patty

Alex and Ani’s Charity by Design is excited for our new bangle that will be launching in February benefitting our partner, American Heart Association. In May of 2013, we put together a unique auction package for the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, where the recipient would be able to work closely with Alex and Ani’s Founder/Creative Director, Carolyn Rafaelian, and our Charity by Design team to design a new bangle to be released in February of 2014.

After an exciting bidding war, Lisa and Ed Medeiros were named the winners and started meeting with Alex and Ani to create the design. The Medeiros’ have been avid supporters of the American Heart Association and are so excited to be a part of this experience to help an organization close to their heart. So many benefit from the endless work that the American Heart Association does and Alex and Ani is continually inspired by the community that has been created around heart health.

At last year’s Heart Ball, our team was able to meet Nick Kelling, the 2013 Little Heart Hero Ambassador, and his mother, Patty, who shared with us the journey of living with several heart defects. We are so lucky to have him as our guest blogger today to help us kick off American Heart Association’s new bangle coming in February of 2014!

_____

My name is Nick Kelling and I am the 2013 Little Heart Hero Ambassador for the American Heart Association. Even though this is a great honor, the reason I was chosen for this is because I was born with several heart defects, one is which is extremely rare, so honestly I would rather not be here and just be a normal 16-year-old kid. I am a senior at Bishop Hendricken High School and have been on the honor roll since I started. My goal is to become an Adult Congenital Cardiologist.

Growing up, I went to the doctors and had a lot of testing and procedures. At first I didn’t know what was going on and just went with the flow. Now that I am older, I realize that with the American Heart Association’s continued funding and research, new procedures and techniques could one day help many more kids, like me, live far beyond what an expected time would be for kids born with heart defects.

I have a great relationship with my cardiologist and, being older, I know all about my defects. He helps me understand and to calm my worries and fears. Even though I look normal on the outside, every little chest ache can make me so nervous that something might happen. I also realize now, that I am not alone and that there are many others like me. My family has always told me to live life to the fullest and to reach for my dreams. This is my wish for every other kid born with a heart defect like me.

Written by Nick Kelling, American Heart Association’s 2013 Little Heart Hero Ambassador

071HeartBall2013-lr

My name is Patty Kelling and I am a heart mom. On October 30, 1996, my baby boy, Nicholas, was born. He was a precious angel brought from heaven and to me, he was perfection.

The next day, on October 31st, I called for the nurse to get my baby, but had to wait as he was being examined. Hours later, a doctor came, but he was not my pediatrician. He was a pediatric cardiologist and had come to talk with me about Nicholas’ heart. He sat down with a drawing of a heart and proceeded to draw the abnormal defective heart my baby had. I started to cry, praying this wasn’t true, but it was.

I soon developed a trusting relationship with this pediatric cardiologist. Nicholas was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries – Type L; Pulmonary Stenosis and a Ventricular Septal Defect. Nicholas spent his first summer sleeping in an Oxygen Tent. Each time he cried, he would hold his breath and turn blue. As we started approaching the dreaded “year” mark, he needed a catheterization, but once again, there was more bad news. I heard them say, “There has been a complication.” At this point, Nicholas was diagnosed with Heart Block, a type of dysrhythmia.

A child born with a rare heart defect like Nick’s means countless doctor’s appointments and unknowns. These are just a couple of our stories, which play out the same way.

Written by Patty Kelling, Nick’s Mom

This post was written by Jessica Woodbury