Saturday, September 24, the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation team was joined by many heart families at Denver Downs Farm in Anderson, South Carolina. In his welcoming speech, executive director David Eill spoke not only on the importance of reconnecting with Emerson Rose Heart Foundation but also reconnecting with fellow Heart Families. The venue had so much to offer the families and their children, including a corn maze, slides, jungle gyms and so much more. One Heart Family opened up and shared their heart child’s story.
Mary Burmeister, mother of Benji Burmiester, had a geriatric pregnancy during the height of COVID. All alone in the hospital, she received news no expecting mother would ever want to hear. The doctors told Mary they did not believe Benji was “compatible with life” and recommended she terminate her pregnancy.
Mary responded with, “Though it might be hard, we can do hard things.”
Mary and her husband went through the rest of the pregnancy, and once Benji was born, they went for a heart echo after realizing he was having difficulty breathing. They discovered Benji was battling against an atrial septal defect (ASD) and a ventricular septal defect (VSD).
Benji’s first formative months of life have been difficult. In January of 2021, he began his journey by having his first heart surgery. Just before his upcoming second birthday in November, Benji will have to go in for his second heart surgery to fix his microvalve.
This experience has taught Mary a lot about the complexities of the medical industry and heart babies. As they prepare for Benji’s next surgery, the Burmiester family is helping other heart families walk down the same road, and they want to ease the minds of other heart moms and dads.
The connect event was a huge success for both heart families and ERHF. Denver Downs offered a safe space for heart families like the Burmiesters to get together and experience the beautiful things life offers! It was an event for the books that the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation will not forget.