LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Each of them is one of 40,000 children born with a congenital heart defect—the leading kind of heart defect. But on Thursday, December 15, at Schuyler Meadows Club, the American Heart Association’s Cardiac Kids group and their families were just more people enjoying the holiday season.

Danielle and Darren Donohue hosted the group at the Schuyler Meadow Club, where the children enjoyed dinner, made gingerbread houses, and had a visit from Santa Claus. “Darren and I are very happy to support the mission of the American Heart Association,” said Danielle Donohue. “It makes us all happy to celebrate the holiday season, and it’s nice to do something fun for these special kids.”

Dr. Michael Colon, a pediatric cardiologist who is also a member of the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association in the Capital Region, works regularly with many of the cardiac kids and was part of the event on Thursday. “Just over 1% of babies are born with congenital heart disease,” explained Dr. Colon. “Many of them do wonderfully without the need for treatment, but 50% are complex, requiring surgery or multiple surgeries, office visits, and tests. It is important for them to have a sense of community and interact with others who are going through similar experiences. The American Heart Association’s Cardiac Kids events help provide this for parents, families, and patients.”

Jennifer Corcoran Conway is the parent lead for the Cardiac Kids Group. Corcoran Conway is also a board member of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region. Her son Aedan was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“Aedan turned 11 this year, and has had three surgeries so far,” Corcoran Conway said. “Today, he plays baseball and skis. We know that the research of the American Heart Association is helping him lead his best life. Being together with the other Cardiac Kids is always a lot of fun and gives us all a chance to support each other.”

The Cardiac Kids are always a large presence at the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run, set for June 4, 2023. For information and to register, visit the event’s website.