This July I will be heading back to Colorado to bike over 80 miles in Courage Classic! I am thrilled to get back to the beautiful Colorado mountains and ride with friends to honor and acknowledge the resiliency that our patients show us on a daily basis. This year I have the privilege of riding for Conor! Despite being only a year old, Conor has overcome more obstacles than any one person should. Being diagnosed with a complex cardiac defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, he has already faced two open heart surgeries, several catheterizations, and countless procedures. Conor is the true picture of strength and resiliency, as he is now home and thriving with his family! I was lucky enough to take care of Conor during his many hospitalizations, where he became known for his tenacious spirit, bright smile, and of course his chipmunk cheeks- which haven’t seemed to change much since being home!
Please read Conor's story below, written by his mother:
Conor Gregory was born March 30, 2020, so we already knew how difficult that was. On top of being a COVID baby he was also diagnosed in the womb at 20 weeks with HLHS. When he was born (via C-section) he was almost immediately taken to the CICU and had scans and test done. He had his first cath surgery the very next day, since then he has had too many procedures for any parent to keep track of. On April 3rd, 2020 he has his first open heart surgery. This was absolutely nerve racking as a parent. He was in surgery for about 8 hours, 3 hours longer then we expected from what we were told. When he was finished and we were finally able to see him for the first time post surgery, we remember thinking how thankful we are that he made it through. We have never seen so many machines, tubing and monitors hooked up to one person let alone a infant that was only 5 days old. For the next 5 months he slowly progressed and recovered, weaned off some medications, and machines and grew more each day. He endured multiple cath procedures throughout this time, as well as scans, tests, therapy sessions.
On August 13, 2020 Conor has his second open heart surgery. We were filled with the same crazy emotions as we had during the 1st open heart surgery. His recovery though this time seemed to be much faster. We finally were able to bring him home on September 28, 2020. We remember leaving the hospital like it was yesterday, trying not to cry our eyes out with excitement. He has been a constant reminder of how fragile life is. He has also shown us just how strong and resistant he is, more then we will ever be. He is a constant reminder to keep going and push through no matter what gets thrown our way. He truly is our hero. We have had him home for almost a year now and he has grown so much. His smile is so contagious, it lights up a room when you walk in. He still has appointments about every three weeks for check ups, he has therapy appointments weekly as well. He has been back to Children's for 2 short stays but during those short stays the nurses all seemed to rush in at once to see him, which made our stays seem so much easier. He adores his older sister for sure, when every she is around he finds ways to babble at her and just gets very interested in what she is doing. He is so loved by everyone. We can't say enough about him, he is our little blessing. He is our HEART WARRIOR!
Courage Classic is not only a personal challenge, but also an opportunity to support positive outcomes and healthier futures for children. I am so excited to ride for Conor, but also for all the other heart warrior kiddos I get to take care of on a daily basis. Congenital heart defects affect 1 in 110 children and is an ongoing battle for many. The CHD research and progress thus far is astonishing, but there is SO much more to be done. Please consider donating to help raise money for CHD warriors like Conor!