Friday, May 20, 2016

Volunteer Staff Updates!

Almost two years ago, we announced with a sad heart that one of our founding partners, Kim Rooks, had resigned her position with Broken Hearts of Florida.

It is with a happy heart that today we announce Kim's return to the Broken Hearts fold as assistant executive director! 

We are also tickled to announce that our phenomenal Gainesville chapter leader, Candice Pridemore, is now assistant executive director.

With the combined leadership of Kim, Candice and BHF Executive Director Karen Thurston, Broken Hearts will continue to thrive and grow. We are excited about our future!

Please join in me welcoming back Kim and in congratulating these two compassionate and talented women on their new positions!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Memorial Donations for Maryjane Blizzard Thurston

Maryjane Blizzard Thurston
Sept. 6, 1927 - Nov. 2, 2014
On Nov. 2, 2014, our founder's mother died after a long illness. Karen Thurston Chavez's mother was an avid, longtime supporter and contributor to Broken Hearts of Florida.

Karen's mother, Maryjane Blizzard Thurston, requested that donations be made in her memory to her daughter's organizations. Maryjane's obituary ran Nov. 5, 2014: Maryjane Blizzard Thurston Obituary.

Broken Hearts was near-and-dear to Maryjane's heart because her youngest grandson, William -- Karen's younger son -- was born with a congenital heart defect. A few months after his diagnosis in spring of 2005, Maryjane's daughter, Karen Thurston Chavez, founded BHF as a way to connect and help families affected by CHD. Throughout the years, Maryjane regularly and faithfully attended a variety of Broken Hearts of Florida events, including its regional forums and monthly family dinners.

We've established a giving page through to accept donations in Maryjane's memory.

Please visit Maryjane Thurston Memorial Donations to make your memorial contribution to Broken Hearts of Florida, a nonprofit organization that supports, educates and connects families affected by congenital heart disease.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Volunteer Staff Changes

Dear Broken Hearts of Florida Families:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce Kim Rooks’ resignation from Broken Hearts of Florida. Kim's resignation letter is included below. 

Rest assured, Broken Hearts of Florida will continue to do what it does best – support, educate and connect families affected by congenital heart defects and other pediatric heart diseases.


Your BHF Board of Directors/Advisory Board Members

Board of Directors

  • Tammie H.
  • Fran Gilbert
  • Suzanne Owen
  • Samantha H. Padgett

Advisory Board

  • Alyssa Brown
  • Rachel Lawley
  • Connie Nixon, RN

Chapter Leaders/Key Volunteers

  • Candice Pridemore
  • Jessica Demino-Maier
  • Samantha Roberts

 Volunteer Staff

  • Karen Thurston Chavez
    Founder/Executive Director of Operations and Outreach

Friday, October 10, 2014

Radio Montage Still Makes Me Cry

One of our heart families is recording their story today for an upcoming radiothon for Children's Miracle Network. It made me think of the montage I recorded for a long-ago radiothon in Tallahassee. Even after six years, William's montage still brings me to tears.

William's Story: Listen here.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find some tissues.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Does God give us more than we can handle? Read this and you decide.

This week has been a very hard week for several of our heart families, for my colleagues at work, for some local families in Tallahassee I've never met but have been praying for, for fellow heart moms I've never met in real life but love keeping up with through Facebook. 

Over the past several weeks, I've seen posts that say or allude to the saying that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." And each time I see it, I think about this blog post by Jill Haskins, a fellow heart mom I've never met in real life, but love chatting and Facebooking with. 

Jill says that God does give us more than we can handle, and she explains why she believes that. Jill gave me the OK to share her blog post here ... thank you, Jill, for always sharing your heart, even when it's breaking. 

God DOES give us more than we can handle.

Monday, November 11, 2013

High Fives to Our Heart Heroes!

 We Are ... Broken Hearts of Florida
Living with congenital heart defects or other pediatric heart disease (or any chronic or acute illness, really) creates a persistent, underlying stress in our daily lives, and it can be easy sometimes to fall into a habit of focusing on that stress and worry. 

So when I come across a feel-good song about celebrating victories, about living in the moment, about not wasting a single minute of the time we're given, I often feel compelled to let one of my favorite hobbies take over of my time. No, really. I get obsessed until the project is done! When I find just the right song and just the right images and put them together in just the right sequence to create a message that just makes you feel good ... well, I can't help myself.

My 9-year-old is a big fan of Big Time Rush, and when I heard the song, "We Are," on the TV  a few weeks ago, while William was watching the video, I listened closely to the lyrics, and I knew immediately it was one of those just-right songs to celebrate our heart kids and adults. 

I dare you to watch this and not, at some point, raise your hands in the air, or at least give these Heart Heroes thumbs up salute. 

We Are ... Broken Hearts of Florida. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Every Bit Helps

We are helping hands in a family's journey with pediatric heart disease. Every bit helps. To make a donation and help a family in crisis,
Broken Hearts of Florida awarded its first Home-Away-From-Home assistance to a family of five.

It felt good this weekend to hand over the card of encouragement and empathy, and the $600 worth of MasterCard gift credit/debit cards and gas card that were tucked inside it.

I told the new heart mom that I wished Broken Hearts of Florida could have covered all their expenses while their baby underwent open-heart surgery at UF Health Shands Children Hospital in Gainesville.

But the North Florida mom smiled; she was grateful. “Every bit helps,” she said. “This helps so much.”

Seven years ago, when Broken Hearts of Florida was founded, this kind of assistance would not have been possible. When families needed financial help, we did a shout-out – via email! – on a case-by-case basis to our other families, asking them to make a personal contribution. We were always thankful for every penny we could collect, as were the families who received maybe $50 of the $500 they needed to keep the lights on and the rent or mortgage paid.

We are humbled and thankful to provide these things to heart families who need us. We are grateful to all of the Broken Hearts contributors and sponsors, who make these gifts possible.
Please help us so that we may continue to support, educate and connect heart families in need. As that heart mom said, “Every bit helps.”
Our organization is completely volunteer-driven. All of our revenue goes straight back to helping our families get through life-changing surgeries, medical crises, and the joys and triumphs.

All of our donation information is available here. Let’s keep supporting, educating and connecting heart families.

We’ve come such a long way since then! Over the past year alone, Broken Hearts of Florida has joyfully provided:
  •         almost $2,000 in financial assistance to almost a dozen heart families
  •         on average, two to three dinners a month for families staying on the 10th and 4th floors of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital;
  •         more than $300 worth of toiletries for families who have found themselves at UF Health quite unexpectedly;
  •         snacks and light meals through its Food from the Heart Pantry for families staying on the 10th floor at UF Health Shands
  •         almost a dozen monthly Family & Friends Dinner Nights;
  •         a full-fledged, tons-of-fun May Day Picnic for families and medical caregivers; and
  •         given out nearly 150 care packages to families in the hospital.
Your donations make it possible. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.