CHARLOTTE - The Greg Olsen Foundation, in partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Children's Hospital, announced Tuesday that The HEARTest Yard Fund has committed to support a cardiac neurodevelopment program, which will be the most comprehensive program of its kind in the Southeast.
"At The HEARTest Yard, we continually think bigger," tight end Greg Olsen said. "The status quo is never enough because we have lives at stake. While a few years ago we kicked off the program helping infants, our foundation is growing just like our heart babies. We're dedicated to helping them over the course of their life."
Olsen and his wife, Kara, founded the The HEARTest Yard after their son T.J. was born with a severe congenital heart defect in 2012. The program provides families and infants treated for severe or complex congenital heart disease at Levine Children's Hospital with unique services. Like T.J., patients will have access to in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy at no charge.
Beyond the physical challenges that pediatric heart surgery patients face, up to 50 percent may experience neurodevelopment deficits during their lifetime that are difficult to detect without the right tests and programs.
The HEARTest Yard program will bridge the gap to ensure families and patients have access to the right care, including early diagnosis, comprehensive evaluation, coordinated care and leading research.
"A program of this caliber would not be possible without the leadership and philanthropic support of The HEARTest Yard and the generosity of this community," Carolinas HealthCare System chief executive officer Gene Woods said. "As Greg and Kara passionately understand, every child deserves to live a healthy life, carefree life. This remarkable gift will serve as a springboard to bring the highest level of comprehensive services to Levine Children's Hospital."
Said Olsen: "(T.J.'s) needs don't end with his heart, and the reality is with a lot of these heart kids, their needs don't end with their hearts. To be able to go to one facility and have one comprehensive program that will identify all the needs - the cognitive delays, speech delays, behavioral, social - all these huge things that are not only important in the cardiac world, but just important in raising your children. To be able to have the first program in this region here as a part of this hospital in our community, we've become obsessed with bringing this to life."