__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

SP O NSO R ED R E P O RT

S T O R I E S from the

HEART

INSPIRING STORIES OF PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE The life-changing care Sacred Heart Health System provides has touched the hearts of many who strive to ensure that this incredible mission of care continues for future generations. Sacred Heart Foundation is proud to be a partner in this endeavor. Please enjoy these “Stories from the Heart.”

PR E SENT E D BY

OC TO BER / N OV E M BE R 2 019

GIVESACREDHEART.ORG | SAC RE D HE A RT FO UN DAT IO N

1


STORIES

SPONSORED REPORT

S PO NS O RE D RE PO RT

from the

HEART

A MESSAGE FROM CAROL CARLAN

Carol Carlan President, Sacred Heart Foundation

Dennis and Meredith Harrison with son, Carter

CARTER HARRISON So much more than a syndrome

2

SAC R E D H E A R T FOU N DATI O N | GIVESACREDHEART.ORG

M

Meredith Harrison had a very normal pregnancy, so when her son Carter was born with a heart defect, it came as a total shock. Carter was immediately transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart, where he would spend the first two weeks of his life. Meredith credits pediatric cardiologist Dr. Matthew Furst for saving Carter’s life multiple times since then. “We knew it was the beginning of a long road, and we saw him so often he became like family,” she recalls. “We found out how special the people who work with these sick kids are, because we had so many wonderful experiences with the nurses and doctors at Sacred Heart.” Carter was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of congenital abnormalities that would require repeated open heart surgeries — the first of which he underwent at Children’s of Alabama — at only 28 days old.

This month’s Stories from the Heart is about how life can take its own unwanted path of surprise and challenge — only to arrive at an outcome that is no less than miraculous. Meredith and Dennis Harrison quickly learned after the birth of their son, Carter, that “we didn’t know we were going to have a kid with medical issues, so we’re very thankful to have the Children’s Hospital here to take care of him.” The family continues to fight on behalf of their son while not wanting “people to look at Carter and see a syndrome. He’s so much more than that, and he’s already beating it” thanks to the loving care of his family and the medical team at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital. Local artist Nina Fritz found her love for painting in her early 20s living in Japan, describing her life’s work as “it’s not work, it’s like a feeding of the soul.” She has recently used her gift as an artist to give back to the all-new Studer Family Children’s Hospital. Stephanie Bryan learned the importance of giving back as a child, and she continues giving along with her other council members, each of whom impact the lives of thousands of individuals across the region. Heartfelt stories, all — about unexpected paths ending in a place where love creates miracles and healing. I am grateful for those who wake up every day and ask, “What can I do to make lives better and ensure these miracles continue?”

“I think we just had peace from God,” Meredith shares. “We never got to take him home. I barely got to hold him. All those expectations people set up during those nine months of pregnancy … we had none of that.” Following his surgery and four days of life support that damaged his developing lungs, Carter was on a breathing tube for three weeks. His mother finally got to hold him on Jan. 1 — a brand new year. It was challenging for the whole family, she says, because they waited nine months to meet him, too. The doctors allowed visitors, but their voices excited the baby, and that was bad for his unstable condition. Next came the swallow studies, which determined Carter was silently aspirating while eating. With little information and next to no preparation, the Harrisons were told their son would need a gastronomy tube, or G-tube, to deliver food directly to his stomach. A few weeks later, the new family finally went home. But three days later, they returned to the hospital — this time, at Sacred Heart. “We did not know how to take care of this baby,” Mom says. “We had three days at home with him … he was now on oxygen, he needed 10 different medications.” When the Sacred Heart team learned the Harrison’s story, they jumped in. Meredith and Dennis credit so much to the nurses and doctors — especially pediatric surgeon Dr. Bryan Weidner, dietician Kristy Ladd and pediatrician Dr. Jason Straub — who taught them how to care for their child with incredible needs. “We didn’t know we were going to have a kid with medical issues, so we’re very

thankful to have the Children’s Hospital here to take care of him,” Meredith says. “If the resources aren’t here, they get us to where we need to go.” In addition to his heart defect, Carter was facing a slew of issues including low platelet count, a low immune system, weak muscle tone, eye problems, a helmet and developmental delays. He had a team of doctors working on each concern, but none of them could figure out how they were connected. So Carter was back in the hospital once or twice a month — until his genetic team in Birmingham enrolled him in a research study at Children’s of Alabama. Through genome sequencing, they looked at everything in his little body. His parents were told there was a 30 percent chance of any explanation, and only a 10 percent chance of a full diagnosis. They were surprised when, after only four months, Carter received a full diagnosis — Takenouchi-Kosaki Syndrome, a condition so rare only 16 people in the world have been diagnosed with it. Because of DNA changes among the 16, the Harrisons could only compare Carter’s case with three others worldwide. “We were eager to be able to say, ‘This is how Carter’s life is going to be,’ but with so many variables, it isn’t that simple,” Meredith explains. So they gather all the information they can, and they never stop fighting on behalf of their little boy. Meredith has connected with a mom in Canada, whose little girl has the same syndrome. Now, she says, they’re fighting for her, too. In March 2019, on Rare Disease Day, Meredith and Dennis spoke about Carter and his journey in front of 100 doctors.

When talking to the geneticists, the Harrisons implored them to take a closer look at the syndrome – because everyone diagnosed with it would benefit. “We’ve been given this platform, and we’re trying to go with it, but I never wanted Carter to be a champion for anything,” Meredith says. “God laughs at our plans. Here we are with Carter in the spotlight, and I think he’s definitely well deserving of that.” Enrolled in the Early Steps program since January 2018, Carter can walk and talk today — things most people with his syndrome can’t do. He has physical, speech and feeding therapy once a week at home, and he sees 10 to 13 specialists at the hospital. “Thankfully the world is getting a lot more accepting of people who are different, but there are always going to be people who are not,” Meredith shares. “We have been very careful so far who we have told — because we don’t want people to look at Carter and see a syndrome. He’s so much more than that, and he’s already beating it.”

Carter Harrison

GIVESACREDHEART.ORG | S ACR E D H E A R T F O U N DAT I O N

3


STORIES

SPONSORED REPORT

S PO NS O RE D RE PO RT

from the

HEART

STEPHANIE BRYAN

Passionate about helping people

l 25th Annua

S

Stephanie Bryan has dedicated her life to helping others, both personally and professionally. In 2014, she became the first female leader elected to the position of Tribal Chair and CEO for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a federally recognized tribe of Native Americans located near Atmore, Alabama. She oversees all operations as well as legislative matters. Born and raised in the poverty-stricken Poarch community, Stephanie recalls interacting with the tribal elders as a little girl, gifting them with much-needed, family-grown vegetables. “It meant so much to them,” she says. “That giving experience was really what shaped me to make my life one of helping others. It was just instilled in me growing up.” Prior to her present leadership role, she sold insurance. Instinctively caring, she would go above and beyond by sitting down with families to develop a carefully crafted plan to offset any tragedy. She would advocate adequate health insurance, along with life, home and auto indemnity. “God has blessed me truly with strategic and analytical skills,” Stephanie said. “I am a visionary.” Stephanie has put that blessing to work as Tribal Chair and CEO, helping to make the community’s vision of “A Place Called Poarch” become a reality for the reservation. According to Stephanie: “My grandmother taught me to be true to my Creek heritage. I will never forget where we came from, so that I never lose sight of where we need to go.” The Tribe’s mantra is “Self-determination, seeking prosperity.” They have grown in number to almost 3,000, developed several flourishing business operations and serve as a source of philanthropic outreach for needed causes. After the tornado devastation in Lee County, Alabama, the Poarch Band made a substantial monetary donation of assistance. Stephanie explains, “Through our success, it’s very important that we give back to help families during tough times. We do that out of humility; we are humble people. The legacy of the Tribe, what we like for people to know, is that we are Alabama natives/ Alabama neighbors.” Healthcare has always been important to her. As a sponsor for Sacred Heart Foundation’s Mall Ball, the Poarch tribe contributed to the purchase of a multimillion-dollar pediatric CT scanner for the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital. Stephanie challenges other corporations and organizations within the region to donate to Ascension Sacred Heart, so that it might continue its mission of providing quality care to all, regardless of their ability to pay. “Every morning when my feet hit the floor, it’s like, ‘What can I do to make lives better?’ ” Stephanie shares. “Philanthropy and helping people are what drive me daily. That’s my passion.”

4

SAC R E D H E A R T FO UN DATI O N | GIVESACREDHEART.ORG

Presented By:

January 25

8:00pm

Cordova Mall

Live music Food tastings

CordovaMallBall.com Benefitting

Kohlton, Age 10 Fighting Pediatric Cancer

At Studer Family Children’s Hospital Ascension Sacred Heart

GIVESACREDHEART.ORG | S ACR E D H E A R T F O U N DAT I O N

5


STORIES

SPONSORED REPORT

S PO NS O RE D RE PO RT

from the

HEART

NINA FRITZ A lifetime of ‘feeding the soul’

A Nina Fritz

6

SAC R E D H E A R T FO UN DATI O N | GIVESACREDHEART.ORG

Although Nina Fritz was predestined to become a gifted and celebrated artist, it took some time for her life’s purpose to be revealed. Not until she was in her early 20s, living in Japan with her Air Force husband Norman, did she discover what she was meant to do. She had gone to the military base’s craft center to work with ceramics. “I was walking down the hall one day and I looked into a room and it was very quiet, and they were all painting. A light bulb went off in my head. ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to paint.’ ” The next day, she registered for the class, started painting and immediately began winning prizes for her work. Today, she produces pieces in oil and watercolor in her home-based studio. Often getting up as early as 3 a.m., she paints for a few hours before others wake. Later, she goes back to it for a few more hours. “I think people don’t realize how hard I work. But it is not work to me. Painting is a joy. It is almost like I cannot function unless I paint or draw.” Nina grew up on a farm, the eighth of nine children born to Italian parents in Philadelphia. Her father, a building contractor, moved the family to the farm when she was 3 years old. He continued to build there as well, including a three-story produce packinghouse, where the top level served as living quarters for the farm hands. She recalls that all her friends who visited her on the farm thought she lived in heaven — able to ride horses and milk the cows. But they never saw the flip side of farm life. She and her three brothers and five sisters rose early and worked all day alongside the hired hands. The family even made their own cheese, as well as wine from their grape arbor. She married Norman in 1959. They have had five

children during their 60 years of marriage: Normie, John, Paul, David and Nichole. When the two that were born during their stay overseas had their births announced, Nina created cards with a little baby on the front that said, “Made in Japan.” Upon moving back to the States, Nina went back to school and started teaching, but she never stopped painting. During her husband’s Air Force career, the family moved a lot, and Nina’s studio was often reduced to a corner in the living room. She credits her great support system — her husband and her mother — with being responsible for her continued career. “Norman carried me every step of the way. My mother lived with us for years, and as far as she was concerned, everything I did was a masterpiece.” Even after a lifetime of artistry and critical acclaim, she is nevertheless taken aback sometimes by what people say and their perceptions. When she introduced herself to a neighbor, that person replied, “Oh everybody knows you.” And when she attended a high school reunion, a classmate asked, “I want to know how you went from the tomato patch to where you are now?” “Things like that surprise me,” Nina comments. “All I do is what comes natural to me. I don’t feel any different from anyone else who works every day because that’s what I do. But as I said, it’s not work, it’s like a feeding of the soul.” Their oldest son, who was a runner at Auburn University, tragically collapsed and died on the track. Devastated, Nina was unable to paint (or sing, which she greatly enjoys) for seven years

after his passing. A friend/teacher/artist was responsible for getting her back to her life’s purpose. Nina has been asked by customers to repeat a piece she painted in the past but explains why this is impossible for her. “I tried, but it’s very hard to repeat — because something happens. It is almost spiritual that, when you start painting, something takes over.” She continues, “You sort of get in the zone. And I don’t wait to be inspired. I just go into the studio and start painting. Then you feel the inspiration. Then you start taking off, the brushes start, and you get into a rhythm — and that’s when things happen.” When Carol Carlan approached her to create two paintings of the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, Nina at first couldn’t believe what she was being asked to do. After looking at the architect’s rendering of the building, she wondered nervously if she could improve on it. Nevertheless, she accepted the challenge and began without delay, listening to a Mozart CD as she created two stunning watercolor renditions. The paintings, unveiled at the opening ceremony of the new Children’s Hospital, were presented to Quint and Rishy Studer and Bubba and Angie Watson in appreciation for their extraordinary support of this state-of-the-art facility: Northwest Florida’s only hospital solely dedicated to the care of sick and injured babies and children — forever captured in beautiful portraits created by Nina Fritz. We are forever grateful for her gift and the legacy that will live on.

GIVESACREDHEART.ORG | S ACR E D H E A R T F O U N DAT I O N

7


SPONSORED REPORT

STORIES from the

HEART

SACRED HEART FOUNDATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2019-2020

MICHAEL JOHNSON, CHAIR

Owner, State Farm Insurance

H. WESLEY “WES” REEDER, PAST CHAIR Managing Partner Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon

President The Kugelman Family Foundation

CEO, New School Selling

Senior Financial Advisor Senior V. P. Wealth Management Mazenko/Baggett Group

AUTUMN BLACKLEDGE

NINA HESS CAMPBELL

President Ballpoint Communications Group

JUSTIN T. HOLMAN, ESQ.

WES PAYNE

Mall Manager Cordova Mall

Autumn Beck Blackledge PLLC

JAMES HOSMAN

Market President Centennial Bank

The Holman Law Firm

Broker Associate Better Homes & Garden Real Estate

JANE LAUTER

STEVE CLARK, TREASURER

CEO, Beck Partners

AARON BALL

PAMELA S. HEINOLD

MICHAEL P. BAGGETT, SECRETARY

JUSTIN A. BECK, VICE CHAIR

RIC NICKELSEN

Vice President, Commercial Lending Smartbank

KERRY ANNE SCHULTZ, ESQ.

Partner Fountain, Schultz & Bridgferd, P.L.L.C.

Design Associate Aqua Décor & Design

SISTER ELLEN KRON, DC

Daughters of Charity

MALLORY STUDER

Marketing & Branding Manager Bodacious Shops

ABOUT THE SACRED HEART FOUNDATION Since 1915, Sacred Heart Health System has been at the heart of healing for Northwest Florida and South Alabama. Like our founders, the Daughters of Charity, Sacred Heart is dedicated to providing quality, compassionate healthcare to the citizens of our regions, regardless of their ability to pay. This steadfast commitment to our community could not have been achieved without the support and generosity of the thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations that have donated to Sacred Heart Foundation. Through this charitable giving, Sacred Heart Foundation has been able to provide millions of dollars of free and low-cost healthcare to the poor, uninsured, under-insured and low-income families. With the help of generous donors, we are proud to partner in Sacred Heart’s mission of care along the Gulf Coast.

8

SAC R E D H E A R T FOU N DATI O N | GIVESACREDHEART.ORG

Profile for hailstudio

Oct_Nov - Stories from the Heart  

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded