NORTH ARLINGTON, N.J. — When Hayden Dorsett died of a congenital heart defect (CHD) five months after he was born, his North Arlington parents Robert & Ady channeled their devastation into something beautiful; Hayden's Heart Foundation.
"Initially it was a selfish act of trying to keep my son's memory alive, but it has become something so positive," Ady Dorsett, 35, told Daily Voice.
CHD is the number one leading cause of death of infants in the US — a fact Ady admits she was unaware of until after her son was diagnosed with CHD when she was 21 weeks pregnant.
When Hayden passed in August of 2012, a "prayer page" for him on Facebook had garnered more than 20,000 followers. The Dorsett's decided to leverage that following to draw awareness to CHD.
"I realized what a huge impact Hayden was having," Dorsett said. "It would be foolish not to use that to help others who were fighting CHD."
Four years later Hayden's Heart Foundation is a force for good for every family dealing with CHD. The 501c3 nonprofit organizes six major fundraisers every year, including a 5K in North Arlington on Hayden's March 19 birthday. There are also two silent auctions, a car wash event, and two golf outings.
The Dorsett's choose a CHD baby to sponsor for each event — called a "heart warrior" — and donate a portion of the proceeds to their family.
The Dorsett's also send out some 75 care packages each year to CHD families and pediatric cardiac hospitals.
When a child passes from CHD, Hayden's Heart Foundation is there for the grieving process. The group sends a care package to every family who has lost their child to CHD, and Ady says the group has also started an annual retreat for grieving mothers.
"It is great to be able to give back to a community that we are very much a part of," Ady said. "This is a great way to honor our son's memory."
The Dorsett's recently published a children's book called "Hayden's Heart" for February, which is heart awareness month.
Ady said the book is a love story about a baby named Hayden who had lots of struggles but through the love he was given on a daily basis, he was able to smile and enjoy life.
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