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Welcome to Lena's Fundraising Page

Lena Rice

Lena Rice

Dear Family and Friends,

As most of you know, I recently underwent open-heart surgery due to a congenital heart defect called aortic valve stenosis. Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common birth defect in the United States, affecting about 1 in 100 babies each year. Over 85% of babies born with a CHD reach adulthood, but children born with more severe cases are much less likely to do so. As someone born with CHD who has grown into adulthood, I have been extremely lucky to be able to live a life without severe limitations, growing up playing sports, becoming a college athlete, and running a 10-mile race a year ago.

My parents found out about my heart condition right after I was born in Ithaca, New York, when the doctors detected a heart murmur. One of the main reasons my family moved to Philadelphia was for the wonderful cardiac care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I had some of the best pediatric cardiologists in the country, regularly meeting with them for cardiac tests. When I became an adult, I transitioned to the adult congenital heart program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where I continued to have biannual visits and radiology tests to track the growth of my aorta. Eventually, my cardiologist came to the conclusion that I would need surgery to replace the enlarged portion of my aorta. She referred me to a cardiac surgeon who is an expert in aortic aneurysm surgery and valve replacements, and he determined that my surgery should be performed in February 2019, much sooner than I had anticipated. As daunting as this surgery seemed and as terrified as I was, I knew that this was the only solution to prevent a life-threatening outcome.

When I was in the hospital recovering, there was a man across the hall from me who had had the same surgery I did from a congenital heart defect. Unlike me, however, he had just found out about his defect a mere five months prior to his surgery. Needless to say, he was very lucky his defect was detected prior to a potentially fatal incident. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for this patient, who was accompanied by his wife and two children, to undergo a risky and invasive cardiac surgery without having the years of treatment and monitoring that I had received my entire life.

Sadly, this is the case for many patients who do not have access to quality care, and even for patients who do get annual physicals and other doctor’s visits, heart defects and murmurs can go undetected. Luckily, because of funded research, death rates from CHDs have declined by 37.5% since 1999. However, there are still gaps in understanding CHDs and how to improve the longevity of those born with defects. That is why I am supporting the Children’s Heart Foundation in their annual CHD walk on May 11th. My family and I will be walking with many other families impacted by CHD to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects so children can live long and healthy lives into early adulthood and beyond. As a child who grew up with all of the advantages of medical care and as an adult who benefited from the most qualified surgeons, I am walking for those children who did and do not have these same advantages and whose lives were lost to CHD. If you are able to help support me in my fundraising goal, it would mean a lot to me and countless other patients, survivors and families. Any donation amount counts, no matter the size.

Thank you for reading my story, and I appreciate your generosity,


raised of $1,000 goal

Recent Donations

1. MZMike Zausmer
3. DRDiana Richman
4. LSLori Snodgrass
5. AHAnne Hilton
6. SBSuzanne R Biemiller

Team Lena Rice