The Children’s Heart Foundation says for every 100 babies born, one of them will have a congenital heart defect. For the Russell Family, that isn’t just a statistic, it’s a reality but now they have a reason to celebrate.
Jaxon Russell just celebrated his first birthday but he also has a congenital heart defect which means the valves that take the blood from his heart to his lungs didn’t develop.
“You know a day or so went by and you just put your faith in God and know that nothing's impossible with God,” said Shannon Russell, Jaxon’s father.
It was with that faith that the Russell’s started Lil’ Heart Sluggers. While in the hospital the night before Jaxon’s first surgery, they put his handprint on a baseball.
“It just became a priceless possession that we'll hang onto forever,” said Russell. “God put it on my heart how many other family's could be touched simply by giving them a ball and a case.”
The Russell’s have mailed out more than 60 kits to families all across the country, even Australia. The kits include a baseball, a baseball case, an ink pad, a mini Louisville Slugger bad and a Lil’ Silver Slugger Award which is given to the toughest and bravest Lil’ Sluggers after their surgeries.
“He's doing great,” said Russell about little Jaxon. “You wouldn't know that he ever had a heart condition at this point. He's just a happy, healthy little boy.”
His parents say Jaxon will need more surgeries in the future but for now they are letting go of feat and looking forward to his next birthday.
Lil’ Heart Sluggers also provides emotional and spiritual support to these families through prayer.
Not every baby makes it through the surgery. For those families, Lil’ Heart Sluggers donates a full size, Louisville Slugger Bad that is personalized in remembrance of their child.
Lil’ Heart Sluggers finds families through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. They plan on being set up with different hospitals across the U.S. to provide families with financial and emotional assistance along with the Lil’ Slugger Packs.