I ride to give hope to Children's Hospital Colorado patients like our daughter Natalie.
Natalie was born February 28, 1999, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and she made quite an entrance. For starters, a prolapsed cord turned a routine delivery into an emergency C-section. Moments later, the doctors discovered a profound heart murmur. It became very apparent that something even more serious was happening. She was quickly transported across town to St. Elizabeth's NICU where they stabilized her before informing us she would need to be transferred right away to Omaha Children's Hospital 50 miles away.
Natalie was born with the genetic birth defect 22q11.2 deletion, otherwise known as DiGeorge Syndrome. She had her first open-heart surgery at 11 days old to repair an interrupted aortic arch type B and two ventricular septal defects (VDS), or holes, in her heart. She spent a month in the hospital and finally came home on her mother's birthday--as great a present as one could ever receive.
Our family moved to Colorado on Thanksgiving Day 2004. Because Natalie's condition required ongoing care and because DiGeorge Syndrome also presented Natalie with other medical challenges like a submucosal cleft palate, aortic stenosis, and leaky valves, we quickly established a relationship with Children's Hospital Colorado. Over the next 15 years, she had her palate issue repaired twice, a stent put in her ascending aorta, and annual appointments to keep tabs on her progress and evaluate her valve situation.
At the age of 20, Natalie had her second (and hopefully final) open heart surgery at Children's Hospital Colorado to repair her pulmonary valve. Natalie's journey will continue (she expects routine pulmonary valve replacements and an eventual aortic valve replacement one day) but future procedures will be performed via transcather. Today, she is a healthy, strong, beautiful young woman with no restrictions...and we are truly grateful.
Riding in the Courage Classic is not only a great personal challenge but also an opportunity to support positive outcomes and healthier futures for children here in Colorado. And to say "thank you" to an organization that has done so much for Natalie and our family. Please consider supporting Children's Hospital Colorado financially by sponsoring me in the Courage Classic.