Fighting Congenital Heart Disease One Baseball at a Time

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 12/21/2013 12:10 am

One in 100 babies born will have a congenital heart defect according to the Children’s Heart Foundation.  For the Russell Family, that statistic is a reality.

But their son Jaxon is a survivor and now they’re helping other families.  The night before Jaxon went in for heart surgery; his family put his handprint on a baseball.

 “For ten minutes we were doing a normal baby thing with our baby,” said Shannon Russell, Jaxon’s dad.  “Not thinking about the situation and it immediately became a priceless possession that we'll hang on to forever.”

Jaxon has had two successful surgeries but will need more.  His parents created Lil Heart Sluggers; to share the hope Jaxon’s handprint gave them with other families going through similar situations. 

Since February, they’ve reached more than 150 families including some in Canada and Australia.  They mail the families Lil Sluggers Packs complete with a baseball, a baseball case, an ink pad, a mini baseball bat and a Lil Silver Slugger Award.  

Babies who don’t make it are also remembered through the “Angels Above the Outfield” program.

Friday night they teamed up with Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball player Ben Revere at Diamond 5 in the Madison Indoor for a silent auction, VIP autograph session and a clinic.  Proceeds went to Lil Heart Sluggers to continue mailing out the packs.

“It makes their day so they go home, they'll be talking about it the whole time, have a good Christmas.  I know their thinking about Santa but right now it's just a couple days before that,” said Revere.

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