By Ava Hiniker
Photo Courtesy of RaeRae of Light
All around the globe, babies are born every day with severe congenital heart defects (CHDs) that crucially impact the lives of their entire families. With no identified causes and no known cures, these children are often forced to endure grueling hours in the hospital from the moment they are born. One local nonprofit strives to lessen the heavy burden placed on these families by providing awareness and funds for all who are impacted.
Based in North Peoria, RaeRae of Light is a family-owned nonprofit organization that strives to raise awareness for children struggling with congenital heart defects. Through annual fundraisers, partnerships with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and prominent efforts to amplify patient stories, this organization marches forward to provide financial support for these families in need with everything from medical bills to house payments.
Their second annual Hits for Hearts fundraiser takes place on April 24. Rae’s Hits for Hearts is a co-ed softball tournament allowing volunteers to visit Paloma Community Park and show off their skills. For those who can’t participate in the tournament, they can still show their support by raising funds. To participate and learn more about this family-friendly fundraising event, visit raeraeoflight.org/hits-for-hearts.
With first-hand knowledge of the physical and emotional tolls CHDs can have on entire households, founder Amy Norris strives to make the lives of each of these families a little bit easier. “I founded this organization in honor of my daughter, Reagan, who passed away from a congenital heart defect when she was six and a half months old,” says Norris. “While she was only with us for a short amount of time, she continues to make a huge difference in so many lives because this nonprofit wouldn’t exist without her. With every event we host, we want to be able to take those funds and use them directly to give back to families in need.”
Recently, RaeRae of Light has been working with Arizona state congress members to produce a specialty license plate for congenital heart defects. Drivers can now obtain a specialty license plate to show their support for the cause. The funds to purchase the license plate will also be donated to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s heart center to finance valuable CHD research.
“We strive to help these hospitals and research programs get the funding they need so a cure for these awful defects can be found,” says Norris. “With the help of volunteers and community support, I will forever be an advocate until no other baby, child, or young adult has their life cut short because of a congenital heart defect.”
To learn more about RaeRae of Light and the many ways to get involved, visit their website at raeraeoflight.org, their Facebook @RaeRaeofLight, and their Instagram