HALVE a Heart for Kids! Ten percent of the proceeds of sales at Chili’s Grill & Bar on March 18 will benefit Greg Olsen’s HEARTest Yard Fund.
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Donations for this event can be made online.
More than 50 Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants in North Carolina and South Carolina will participate in an all-day fundraiser on Tuesday, March 18 to help families with children who have congenital heart disease.
The money raised will go directly to the HEARTest Yard Fund, a family service program that provides a multitude of services to congenital heart families, including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy.
When Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and his wife Kara learned their son T.J. would be born with a severe congenital heart defect – hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) – they faced all the emotion, challenges and decisions that are only known by parents of severely ill children.
'Determined to Do Whatever We Can'
They instantly committed to giving their child the best chance at life, providing him access to the finest doctors, treatment and technology at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Children’s Hospital.
T.J. was born in October 2012 and underwent his first surgery just days after being born. Like many HLHS babies, he would face two more in his first three years of life. After going home from the hospital, the Olsen family soon discovered the need, as well as the benefit, of having in-home nursing care for their fragile son.
“I was terrified that I would do something wrong and end up hurting my child,” Greg Olsen said. “I would never want another parent to have to go through the stress and anxiety that Kara and I faced so we are determined to do whatever we can to help others who are in this situation.”
Extending Care Beyond the Hospital
As a result of the Olsen’s experience, the Greg Olsen Foundation partnered with Carolinas HealthCare Foundation to establish The HEARTest Yard Fund. This program makes the transition from the hospital to the home much easier for families of infants affected by congenital heart disease. One of its key focuses will be to prevent complications and readmissions to the hospital between stages of recovery.
From left to right: Kara Olsen, Greg Olsen, Ben Peeler, MD, and Martha Whitecotton. T.J., one of the three Olsen children, is held by Kara in the front row.
Benjamin Peeler, MD, who operated on Olsen’s son T.J. and countless other babies and adults with congenital heart disease, says by supporting the HEARTest Yard, it will help improve the interstage mortality rate and increase life expectancy and long term prognosis for HLHS children.
“This initiative will also assist families as they settle into their new lives as parents of children with congenital heart disease,” Dr. Peeler said. “It can be a very challenging time for the parents and it is to their benefit to have someone who can help them during this crucial time of recovery.”
The services will be deducted from a predetermined medical benefit to be used at the family’s discretion, and will act as an extension of the amazing care already offered at Levine Children's Hospital. The HEARTest Yard fund will provide this option to families at no charge, while incurring no additional expense to the hospital.
Chili’s encourages all diners to participate in the fundraiser by simply mentioning the HEARTest Yard when they go in to eat. “We are excited to host such a worthwhile cause in our restaurants and to donate a portion of our sales to this lifesaving fund,” Bunker Hill, Area Director for Chili’s Grill & Bar said.