Raising awareness for pediatric heart defects in Stanly County

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen’s charity helped Stanly County family

Feb 3, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Greg Olsen and wife Kara Dooley during red carpet arrivals for the NFL Honors show at Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

LOCUST — A 3-year-old Stanly County boy and his family are working to raise awareness a severe congenital heart defect. The resilient Hank Chavis, as his parents Brittany and Jared Chavis describe him, was born with a medical condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia and spent most of his first six weeks of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit at Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolina HealthCare System in Charlotte.

Hank Chavis | Photo courtesy of the Chavis Family

He was fighting for his life and succeeded, but the road ahead of him remains a long one, filled with countless doctor’s appointments, surgeries and plenty of days of bed rest. Thanks to Carolina Panthers player Greg Olsen and his wife, Kara, however, Hank received in-home nursing care early on through the HEARTest Yard Program.

The HEARTest Yard Program, first established by Olsen and his wife in 2012, provides families of children affected by congenital heart disease and treated at Levine with a multitude of services including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy, speech therapy and more at no cost. The charity is close to the Olsens’ hearts as parents of a child with a heart defect.

T.J. Olsen was born in 2012 with hypoplastic-left heart syndrome. The condition causes the left side of the heart to be severely underdeveloped. The couple’s HEARTest Yard Program, part of The Greg Olsen Foundation, was initially founded to provide support for families of infants treated for congenital heart disease, but now — as the Olsen’s son, and HEARTest Yard recipients grow — it looks to support those patients into adulthood by bringing together a team of medical professionals to provide access to services and care. That’s why this past November, the Olsens and HEARTest Yard donated $750,000 to Levine Children’s Hospital — funds set aside to create a cardiac neurodevelopmental program, a first-of-its-kind program in the region.

For his charitable efforts, Olsen was a finalists for last year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award, the second straight year he was one of three finalists for the honor.

Young Hank Chavis’ parents say they are grateful for the support they have received from the HEARTest Yard Program because it “fills direct needs of parents who are in our shoes, raising a child with congenital heart disease.” To bring attention to their son’s medical condition and the good work of the HEARTest Yard Program, they are hosting two events on March 3 at Meadow Creek Farm in Locust.

The first event is a SuperHeroes Breakfast from 9-11 a.m. Tickets are $5 per person and include breakfast and event activities. The second event, A Night to Benefit the HEARTest Yard Foundation, includes dinner and beverages, plus music by DJ NightShift. Tickets are $20 per person. Tickets to both events will be sold at the door and can also be purchased at Stanly Appliance prior to event.