My Heart is in the Midlands

Posted On March 17, 2015

Join me in the fight against heart disease

By Ben Hoover 

 American Heart Association Columbia SC

As a long time television anchor, I’ve always felt a part of what was happening in our community. I have recently joined forces with the American Heart Association (AHA) and now realize why my heart truly is in the Midlands.

As the Community Teams Chair for the 2015 Midlands Heart Walk, I have learned the impact heart disease and stroke have on our community. The AHA works tirelessly to improve people’s lives by building partnerships, educating our children, advocating for healthy communities, working to ensure equitable health, expanding access to healthy choices, and funding lifesaving research.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the benefits of the AHA’s work first-hand. I’ve heard many heart disease and stroke survivor stories from people right here in the Midlands. One little boy embodies what it means to be a survivor. Carter Shelton is 2 years old, but has the heart of a champion.

Carter’s parents, Melissa and Mark Shelton, tried for years to expand their family. Just as they were about to resign the idea, they received the wonderful news that they were expecting. Melissa had an easy pregnancy and with each doctor’s visit, they were more and more excited about bringing a son into the world.

On August 22, 2012 Carter Shelton made his grand debut. He looked perfect, but they quickly learned something was wrong. The doctors informed the Shelton’s that Carter’s heart was not performing normally and that he had Down Syndrome. “When the doctors told us,” Mark explained, “all I could think was ok, we know about Down Syndrome but what is wrong with his heart?”  Carter was diagnosed with a Complete Atrioventricular Canal defect (CAVC) which is a large hole in the center of the heart affecting all four chambers where they would normally be divided. Melissa and Mark learned Carter’s CAVC, a congenital heart defect with no known cause, would require surgery.

At only five months old, Carter had open heart surgery on January 24, 2013.  Mark and Melissa are still amazed by the skill and precision required to close the hole in his heart. Carter triumphed over this invasive procedure and was able to return home on February 4, 2013.

Since then, Carter has made a remarkable recovery and is growing into an active, healthy, happy boy.  He loves swinging, playing ball, reading books and especially loves his ninja turtles. Mark and Melissa credit the medical advances funded by the American Heart Association for giving their son a chance to lead a healthy life.  “We feel so blessed to have Carter, Melissa said. “We hope by sharing our story we will give hope to the many other families in similar situations.”

Carter’s fighting spirit is why he has been chosen as the 2015 Midlands Heart Hero. He will be honored at the Midlands Heart Walk at the Colonial Life Arena. 

While there have been tremendous advances, there is still much work to be done. Over 11,500 South Carolina residents die each year from heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association wants people to experience more of life’s precious moments. It’s why they have made better heart and brain health their mission. And until there’s a world free of heart disease and stroke, they will continue working to make a healthier, longer life possible for everyone.

I encourage all Midlands residents to join Carter, the American Heart Association and me as we fight for improved health. Our annual Heart Walk is March 21, 2015, and we need you there, not only to help us raise funds, but to send a resounding message that the Midlands is serious about improving the heart health of our community. Please visit www.midlandsheartwalk.org  and register today.

Why? Carter is Why. A healthy Midlands community is Why.

Life is Why.