By Branden Hines, Guest Blogger
How old does one have to be to make a difference? Trick question! You can be any age, trust me!
My name is Branden and I am 15 years old. I was born with a fairly uncommon heart condition known as “Prolonged QT Syndrome”, requiring me to undergo five heart-related surgeries thus far in my life. My condition is genetic, and many of my family members carry my condition. Life has not always been easy for myself or my family, however through perseverance we’ve made it this far.
I became a spokesperson for the American Heart Association at the age of ten and have adored every second of my time here. Not only has the opportunity been wholesome, but enlightening as well. Through over 25 speaking engagements on the American Heart Association’s behalf in the last 12 months, I have learned a myriad of very important lessons and ideals. My primary focal point as a representative is to speak to students from schools around the state of New Jersey varying from pre-k to 9th grade. My objective is to tell my story and spread as much awareness as I am capable of through public speaking and fundraising.
My story is a long one, and is a journey on its own. My first heart surgery was performed at the age of two, making me the first person in North America to have my procedure performed and the youngest person ever. Since then, hundreds if not thousands of children have been able to live a normal, healthy life thanks to the prior procedure. My latest surgery was less than a month ago and I am fully recovered now.
Being a student athlete, I make it a point to be an example to all other people with heart complications (children and adults alike), to prove that you can live a healthy and normal life with a heart disease. I have always believed that in the wake of every misfortune lies an opportunity to achieve something great, my life and story provide strong evidence of this belief being obtainable. It is the foremost of my aspirations to continue to inspire and provide the motivation for others to support the American Heart Association’s cause.
Looking for more information on how to get your school involved in the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Jump Rope and Hoops for Heart programs? Visit www.heart.org/hoops or call 609.208.0020.
Check out Branden’s school kick off video: