Child’s congenital heart defect is parents’ call to action
Little Jordan Rossen is the inspiration for a big goal: helping children with congenital heart defects.
Jordan was born on Christmas Eve 2004; a few weeks later, in February, her parents received the distressing news that their newborn had a bicuspid aortic valve instead of a normal tricuspid valve. “When we first found out, we were taken aback, as any parent would be,” says her father, Corey Rossen.
Soon, however, he and his wife Kara Goeller took action. Now, every February – in conjunction with American Heart Month – their family-owned wine store, Rozi’s Wine House, holds a fundraiser in support of pediatric cardiology research at Cleveland Clinic’s Pediatric Institute & Children’s Hospital.
They didn’t start out to raise funds; their first aim was to raise awareness of children’s heart problems while providing heart-healthy tips. They created pamphlets that they distributed to friends and neighboring businesses in Lakewood, Ohio, where they live and where Rozi’s has been a fixture for 70 years.
Thanks to Jordan, the entire family, including her sister Payton, 6, and brother Dawson, 2, follow a heart-healthy diet. The adjustment was probably hardest on Dad, who says he had to acquire a taste for peanut butter on whole wheat. “Jordan knows what foods are good for her heart, which foods are OK for her heart and which foods she can get away with,” he says. “She’s the only kid at her preschool who says nectarines are her favorite food.”
Today, at 4 years old, Jordan is on medication and has not yet had to have surgery, though that may be in her future. “She’s doing well,” Mr. Rossen says. “She’s in perfect shape, perfect condition.”
Jordan’s Family Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for congenital disease research and treatment. Mr. Rossen and Ms. Goeller established the charity after their initial fundraiser netted $2,000 in 2005. Since then, the event has grown every year, raising $11,500 in 2009. “We had nearly 300 people last February,” Mr. Rossen says. “We raised more than ever before, and it’s a recession. The generosity of people is amazing.” The event featured cuisine prepared by master chef Matt Harlan, prizes and auction items ranging from local gift certificates to an all-expenses-paid trip to Napa Valley.
Determining which research projects to support isn’t a task that Mr. Rossen and his wife take on all by themselves. They enlist the help of Jordan’s physicians, Cleveland Clinic pediatrician Ruthanne Muniak, MD, and pediatric cardiologist S. Ken Mehta, MD, of Fairview Hospital, one of Cleveland Clinic’s community hospitals.
“Each year we ask for a list of a few things Cleveland Clinic is seeking funding for, like the PediPump” Mr. Rossen says. “That’s where we donate.” The PediPump, an artificial heart pump designed specifically for children with heart failure, was developed by lead researcher Brian W. Duncan, MD, and a team of Cleveland Clinic clinicians and researchers.
It’s important to Mr. Rossen and his wife that they help in any way they can, and the fundraisers give them that opportunity. “Pediatrics is kind of overlooked," he says. "Any nickel we make we send to Cleveland Clinic.”
To make a gift supporting the Pediatric Institute & Children’s Hospital or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit iSupport, our secure online giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.