Raising Hope, One and a Half Hearts at a Time.

        In November 2010, Lorraine Hamel visited Marie at her home, having crossed paths with her at a local Craft Fair in Sherman. She was selling Ceramic Necklaces and had brought with her a Heart Necklace at Marie’s request. Marie loved it, as did her friend Janelle who ordered one on the spot also. The heart necklace was very symbolic of Matthew’s CHD, because it was a half a heart next to a whole heart. Matthew has half a heart but lives his life to the fullest! It was decided that Lorraine would make 100 of them with Matthew’s initials on the back of each one. The goal was to raise awareness and money for Little Hearts. And so began and amazing journey that led us to Matthew’s Hearts of Hope

        On December 22nd, a month later, Matthew’s friend Faith passed away and we were all devastated! It became more personal at that point and we were getting orders for the necklace from all over the place. We sold many necklaces in the early months and contributed some money to Little Hearts as was the original goal. We compiled a Board of Directors which included Matthew’s pediatrician and Pediatric Cardiologist and with much encouragement from a friend Bernadette Schopfer , we applied to become our own Not For Profit Organization with the goal of raising awareness to the #1 Birth Defect, Congenital Heart Defects and raising money for promising CHD Research.

        A conversation at a graduation party with Dr. Kevin Ferguson, Matthew’s pediatrician, in June 2011 led to a way to honor Faith’s memory, mandating pulse oximetry screening in her home state of Connecticut.  Letters were written and sent to local legislators and a meeting with Senator Michael McLachlan in July 2011 resulted in a Research Report and discussions with members of the Public Health Committee. Senate Bill 56 was introduced and passed in a matter of 4 months, “Matthew and Faith’s Law” was signed by Governor Dannel Malloy on May 8th, 2012. LIVES HAVE BEEN SAVED BY THIS LAW.

        In January 2013, Marie and Matthew reached out to Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther to offer their help with a similar bill in New York and ultimately were guests of honor in the NY Assembly on May 30th to witness the unanimous passing on Bill #A2316. Governor Cuomo signed it into law on July 31st!
In August 2011, Matthew underwent his 3rd open heart surgery and spent a few days in Pediatric Cardiac ICU, a very stressful place. When leaving ICU we asked Matthew’s Nurse Svetlana what we could do to help these little children, many of whom were very sick. She asked us to get her some heart pillows and so “Hug a Heart” Pillow Project was born.

        We have hosted three successful Galas, the proceeds of which now go directly to Pediatric Cardiology Fellows for promising CHD Research.
Thank you for joining us on our CHD journey, it’s a long hard road with Matthew but we know his angel Faith watches over him for us and we are making a difference in honor and memory of all CHD warriors and angels!

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