The Children’s Heart Foundation announced its 2020 awards recipients at a virtual celebration on Dec. 16. Here’s a quick recap!
Our “WalkStar” award for OUR OUTSTANDING WALK VOLUNTEER went to Caitlin McCamish. Mom of four-year-old heart warrior, Anna, Caitlin has become a strong leader for The Children’s Heart Foundation as she chaired this year’s San Antonio Congenital Heart Walk. She built and led an incredibly inclusive community and eagerly involved families, medical professionals, and the local community to position the walk for growth. As the event went virtual, Caitlin was heavily involved with walk week activities connecting participants with each other AND with our cause.
This year’s OUTSTANDING YOUNG ADULT BOARD AWARD went to Doug Sexton, a heart warrior born with Ebstein’s anomaly. When Doug agreed to serve on our new Young Adult Board this year, his goals were to increase awareness for CHDs, to encourage additional research advances, and to provide greater support for families who feel alone. Besides living with a CHD, Doug also works in the field as an echocardiographer. A constant advocate for The Children’s Heart Foundation, he has done an amazing job with fundraising and outreach.
The OUTSTANDING COMMITTEE MEMBER AWARD was given to Tawanna Nishibayashi. In 2020, Tawanna shared her time, talents, and expertise with our Marketing/Communications Committee and also with our Facebook Task Force AND Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. Tawanna is a heart mom to four-year-old Avery Grace and runs her own business, but she was quick to help and also willing to share her personal story on several occasions, including for a feature story in the Chicago Tribune's 2020 Guide to Giving.
This year’s OUTSTANDING NON-WALK VOLUNTEER AWARD went to Ruby Hluz. Heart mom to angel Victoria, Ruby is a true champion of hope for The Children’s Heart Foundation. When we launched our 50-Mile Facebook Challenge this fall, Ruby helped manage and monitor the Facebook group, answered questions, addressed concerns, and connected with participants. Most importantly, she shared our mission and made everyone feel like part of the family, which helped us connect to new constituents and raise even more funds for CHD research.
The OUTSTANDING NON-WALK EVENT AWARD went to Jen Borchard and Sue Murray for their great work on the “2020 Red Tie Ball: Untied” AND for the wonderful success of this virtual event. Jen and Sue led their committee in shaping a great vision, showing up to do a lot of hard work, and widely sharing the importance of our mission. COVID-related challenges didn’t stop Jen and Sue from hosting an exceptional event and raising funds for our mission.
Our new OUTSTANDING OUTREACH AWARD was presented to Dr. Evan Zahn, a member of our Medical Advisory Council, for playing an integral part in cultivating connections for sponsorships for The Children’s Heart Foundation this year. An interventional cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles, Dr. Zahn has also helped with additional outreach that could lead to future sponsorships.
Our new OUTSTANDING OUTREACH AWARD was presented to Dr. Evan Zahn, a member of our Medical Advisory Council, for playing an integral part in cultivating connections for sponsorships for The Children’s Heart Foundation this year. He was solely responsible for connecting us with a generous donor that has graciously agreed to serve as an underwriter for an upcoming project. An interventional cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles, Dr. Zahn has also helped with additional outreach that could lead to future sponsorships.
This year’s OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD was given to two members of our Medical Advisory Council who have gone above and beyond for The Children’s Heart Foundation this year. As we quickly worked to share information about COVID-19 with heart families, Dr. John Costello and Dr. Jennifer Romano said “yes” to hosting conversations with constituents on Facebook Live…not just one or two times, but FIVE times since March.
Our OUTSTANDING INTERN AWARD went to Grace Kiple, who served as our summer intern but made key contributions that impacted The Children’s Heart Foundation all year long. Grace created a 30-minute Disney sing-along video for our virtual Congenital Heart Walk series and worked extensively on video projects for the Walk series and other events. Grace also wrote and performed “We Gotta Hope,” the song (and corresponding slide show) that gave life to our “Hearts that Hope” campaign.
Lastly, it is our great honor to recognize OUTGOING BOARD CHAIR Martha Hauber. Martha has served as board chair since January 2019, and she was the board treasurer prior to that. In fact, Martha has been filling various roles with The Children’s Heart Foundation since 2005! Her passion for The Children's Heart Foundation emanates from personal experience on the importance of CHD research. Martha’s sister, Anna Marie, was born with a critical CHD during a time when there were no treatment options available for "blue babies, so she lived only a few days. Nearly 35 years later, Martha’s son, Drew, was born with a congenital heart defect. Thanks to advancements in CHD research, there were more options for babies born with critical CHDs. After three open-heart surgeries and eight cardiac catheterizations, Drew is a thriving college student and Martha is a heart mom who is passionate about CHD research. We thank you for your service and commitment to the mission of The Children’s Heart Foundation.