Mission & History

About CHF

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

Message from CHF's National Board President:

Dear Friends of CHF,

As National President of The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF), I am excited to be a part of our terrific group of volunteers as well as our small but mighty staff. We are excited to continue raising money to fund the most promising research for Congenital Heart Defects. Our founder, Betsy Peterson, has provided guidance and leadership for our Foundation for the past 20 years. Having just returned from our annual Medical Advisory Board meeting as well as our planning session with our Chapter President’s and key volunteers, we know that we will raise more money than ever before for Congenital  Heart Defect research. This gathering impressed upon me once again so many important components of CHF. First, we fill an important and needed function in providing funding for researchers trying to make advancements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects. Second, I was once again touched and amazed by the stories and efforts of our Chapter Presidents and staff who work tirelessly to make this organization great. Third, our Medical Advisory Board, led by Chairperson Dr. Jennifer Romano, are a dedicated group of surgeons, cardiologists and scientists that works very closely with the volunteers to ensure that we are achieving our mission to fund the most promising research. Collaboration with other organizations in the congenital heart defect landscape is an incredibly important opportunity. Examples of collaboration include:

  • Congenital Heart Walks – fundraising held across the United States in collaboration with the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA)
  • Advocacy – Legislative Conference in Washington, DC in collaboration with the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association (PCHA) & the ACHA
  • Research Funding - Our partnership with the American Heart Association with joint research projects that will fund $22.5 million over a seven year period (2014 – 2021).

Thank you for your time and interest as we look forward to having many more join our efforts!

- Tamara S. Thomas
  National Board President

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.

Sam (pictured right), the 8-year-old son of Betsy and Steve Peterson died Jan. 3, 1995, of multiple organ failure brought on by a sudden heart-related collapse. Doctors have never understood why Sam was born with complex heart defects or why he collapsed so suddenly. During his short life, Sam proved that modern technology and a love for life could conquer congenital heart defects, if only for awhile. If Sam were born 20 years earlier, he would not have lived a day after his birth. It is only through research that a child like Sam had the chance to survive and make such a lasting impact on those whose lives he touched.

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

To date, The Children's Heart Foundation has funded 99 research projects with more than $10.6 million. As the country's leading organization solely committed to CHD research funding, CHF dedicates itself to advancing the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects.