On Friday, Feb. 1, the American Heart Association's National Wear Red Day was celebrated locally at Zachary High School in Bronco Stadium when Mayor David Amrhein and about 50 employees gathered to recognize Zachary heart survivors, Julianne Caperton, 5, and ZHS honor student, Jack Dickson, 14.
The City of Zachary's local effort is part of the American Heart Association's "America Goes Red" campaign during the month of February.
Caperton was diagnosed and is living with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. On Sept. 24, 2007, she underwent her first open heart surgery at just 5 days old.
Caperton also struggled with an arrhythmia causing a very fast heart rate. At 2 weeks old she went into cardiac arrest and had to be put on ECMO (a heart-lung machine) to recover, and then had a stroke at 6 mos.
Following a stroke, she completed another heart surgery, her second.
Then in 2010, Caperton had her third heart surgery, the Fontan.
During her recovery, Caperton became part of a study funded by a grant through the American Heart Association. The information from the study could help kids just like Caperton recover more easily from the Fontan surgery.
"She still suffers from a very fast heart rate. However, we thank God that Julianne is doing very well right now!" the Caperton family says.
Jack Dickson, 14, suffers from a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot.
Dickson is a triplet, and he underwent heart surgery at just 6 weeks old. His second heart surgery occurred at 16 mos., and his third surgery involved replacing a pulmonary valve.
Dickson is presently in the 9th-grade at ZHS. He has two sisters.
“Together we can raise awareness, educate and hopefully prevent some of the devastation that heart disease has on our community. Join us in making a difference in our community,” says Mayor Amrhein. "On average, one woman in the United States dies from heart disease, stroke, or another cardiovascular disease every minute – that is 60 women during an hour. Fortunately, heart disease is often preventable."