‘Bowling for Beads’: Saturday event raises funds for Beads of Courage
By NICHOLE GOLDEN
email@example.comOlivia Harvey of Newnan is like many eight-year-old girls. She loves horseback riding, singing and dancing with friends, and is a fan of teen singer Justin Bieber.
Olivia, now a second grade student at The Heritage School, was diagnosed at birth with three congenital heart defects — coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary stenosis and mitral stenosis — all conditions that will impact her for life.
“It affects both sides of her heart,” said Olivia’s mother, Melissa Harvey.
Shortly after birth, a nurse noticed the baby was having difficulty breathing while nursing. “She went directly down to the NICU,” said Harvey.
At six months of age, Olivia began receiving care at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) Sibley Heart Center. In June 2003, she underwent a cardiac catherization to treat the coarctation, or narrowing, of her aorta and pulmonary stenosis, a condition in which a narrowed pulmonary value restricts blood flow to the lungs. Her heart did not respond to the procedure, and she remained in the Children's Michael P. Fisher Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) while waiting for open-heart surgery.
A week later, Olivia underwent a successful surgery to remove her pulmonary valve and repair the coarctation of her aorta. She remained in the hospital for two-weeks to recover. She continues to receive routine check-ups to monitor her mitral stenosis and evaluate the need for a pulmonary valve replacement surgery.
Melissa Harvey said that she feels fortunate to have had the expertise of CHOA so close to home. “It was very scary,” she said. “They were my support system.”
To support other families who undergoing similar experiences, Melissa co-chairs Heart Friends, a group composed primarily of families who have children treated at the Children's Sibley Heart Center.
On Saturday, March 26, Heart Friends will host the Bowling for Beads event to fund the cost of the Beads of Courage at Sibley. The beads program allows patients to share the story of their medical struggles and triumphs through colorful beads they receive along their medical journey.
For each procedure, lab test, or visit, the patients receive a hand-crafted glass bead to add to their chain of beads.
Harvey said Bowling for Beads, to be held at Ten Pin Alley at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, is in its second year. The event “completely” funds the Beads of Courage program at Sibley.
Saturday’s event will run from 1-4 p.m. In addition to an afternoon of bowling, children can visit with clowns, enjoy face painting, and making bead bracelets. Great food will also be available for attendees. For more information, to purchase a ticket, or to make a general donation, go to: http://www.choa.org/Support-Childrens/Events/Heart-Friends-Bowling-for-Beads.
Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for children and $10 each for Sibley Heart Center patients.
Olivia has her own set of bright beads, detailing her courageous health battles. “She’s doing remarkably well,” said Melissa.