Mission & History

About The Children's Heart Foundation

The Children's Heart Foundation (CHF) was founded in 1996 and is the country's leading organization solely dedicated to funding congenital heart defect (CHD) research. 

Our mission is to fund the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of CHDs.

Since The Children's Heart Foundation was founded, we have funded more than $11.1 million of life-saving, life-changing CHD research in several areas including clinical cardiology, basic science, population science, and advancement of surgical/intervenitonal techniques.

History of The Children's Heart Foundation

The story of The Children’s Heart Foundation begins with the joyful life and premature death of Sam Peterson (right), who was born with congenital heart defects.

Sam, the 8-year-old son of Betsy and Steve Peterson, died January 3, 1995, of multiple organ failure brought on by a sudden heart-related collapse. Doctors were never able to explain why Sam was born with complex CHDs or why he collapsed so suddenly.

If Sam had been born 20 years earlier, he wouldn’t have survived even a day after his birth. During his short life, Sam proved that modern technology could conquer congenital heart defects, if only for a while.

With the support of family and friends, and an understanding of the gift given to them because of research, Betsy and Steve bravely responded to their loss by creating The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF). Friends, colleagues, and leading medical professionals formed the Board of Directors and CHF was incorporated in Illinois in June of 1996.

It’s only through continued research that children born with CHDs have the chance to survive, which is why CHF is dedicated to funding this critical research.