Tag Archive | Heart Disease


At 5 months of age, many babies are making their first attempts at real speech.  They are gearing up to start crawling, maybe learning how to sit on their own.  A baby’s grasp gets stronger and they start trying to grab things on their own.

At just 5 months old, this young lady was grasping for survival.

Impact Images Studio

Miss Northwest, Alex O’Connor

(Photo courtesy of Impact Images Studio)

“I had heart surgery to repair a left anomalous coronary.  It’s a congenital defect,” Alex told me earlier this week.  “I was in the ICU for two months at Denver Children’s Hospital.”

A quick search of the condition reveals some alarming phrases.  Very rare… sudden death as a complication.. heart attack in the baby.

In this case, a miracle.  Alex has grown into a beautiful young woman competing for Miss Nebraska as Miss Northwest.  She’s also using her title to share her story.

“My platform is ‘Be Heart Healthy’ because I am a heart survivor,” said Alex.  “My mission is to spread the word about how to have a healthy heart.”


Alex with Miss Chadron 2013 Meghan Thalken

Alex says that passion is one of the reasons people should care about the Miss Nebraska organization.

“It is not just a pageant,” said Alex.  “All the girls in this organization are truly wonderful and all we ever want is to make a positive difference in someone’s life.”

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Participating has also had an impact on Alex.  A senior at Paxton High School, she previously competed in Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

“Being in this system I have learned lifelong lessons that I will never forget,” said Alex.  “Just overall, I’m more confident and mature for my age.”


Alex says she loves performing in front of an audience, but her favorite part of Miss Nebraska is the Evening Gown portion.

“I love to dress up.  I mean, who doesn’t?” said Alex.  “I love showing who I am by being confident and graceful.”

As for Lifestyle and Fitness, or swimsuit, Alex says she sees both sides of the controversy, but believes it is a necessary aspect of the competition.

“We are competing for Miss Nebraska, maybe even Miss America, and the lucky lady who gets it needs to be in good shape so she can be ready for anything,” said Alex.


It is truly amazing how life can change and come full circle.  From a baby with a sick heart, to a young woman with a heart of gold.

“I want to be Miss Nebraska because it has always been a dream for me since I was little,” said Alex.  “For me, it’s not all about getting the crown, for me, it’s knowing that I have the chance to make a difference in someone’s life.”


Connect with Miss Northwest, Alex O’Connor

on Facebook


The Miss Nebraska pageant takes place June 5-7 in North Platte, Nebraska.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.


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A Mother’s Heart

Once in a while, God shoots a story my way reminding me of how incredibly lucky we are to be preparing for a summer with our sweet little man and our new precious gift.


Stories like this one, from the DeHoek family at the Nebraska Medical Center. Lindsey and Brian DeHoek were just like us and so many other parents; expecting a new baby and preparing another child to soon be a big brother. Baby Ethan surprised everyone, arriving three months early at the family’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Doctors gave the DeHoeks news I can’t even imagine without tearing up, that their new son was born with dead intestines and probably wouldn’t survive.

HE DID. Ethan is 6 months old and going strong in Omaha, awaiting an intestinal transplant. In the meantime, his mom and dad are commuting back and forth between Nebraska and Michigan, balancing time between sweet little Ethan and older brother, 5-year-old Parker. Can you imagine?!? Being separated from your family by thousands of miles, while facing such an emotional roller coaster. I think of the DeHoeks often and can’t wait to update their story when Ethan is healthy and reunited with his ENTIRE family in Michigan.


Thanks to Alegent Creighton Health & Jodi Hoatson for the photo!

You’ll see THIS story tonight. This beautiful woman is Jenny Petz. At 32 years old, she suffered a heart attack just 8 days after giving birth to her second child, Kai. Instead of watching her little girl, then just a toddler, interacting with a new baby brother, and soaking in each and every moment with her son, Jenny was in cardiovascular rehab, recovering from a moment that almost killed her. Tonight at 10, Jenny will share her message–what caused her heart attack and how you can prevent the same thing from happening to you or someone you love. She’s truly an inspiration–I can’t imagine juggling a toddler, a newborn, AND life after open heart surgery. But she DID IT. And she’ll amaze you, too!

One of the great things about my job: the people we meet, the stories we get to share, and the reminders of what amazing things people can overcome. Reminders to appreciate all of the good we all take for granted, and reminders to look forward to the incredible things to come 🙂

‘You’ll be his first kiss, his first love, his first friend. You are his momma, and he is your whole world. He is your little boy.