Casey O’Neill is May’s Fundraiser of the Month. Read on to find out why!

Casey’s son Freddie was born with a hypoplastic aorta and large Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD).

Freddie had two bouts of open heart surgery very early on in life (the “Norwood” procedure at 6 days and the “Glenn” procedure at 8 months), and he requires more surgery later in life.

However, he has surpassed his initial prognosis and gone from strength to strength. Casey told us:

“CHSF came into our lives the day Freddie was born, always present within Ward 51 and making a tough journey that little bit easier.

Having put myself and Freddie’s dad into accommodation, we could stay as close to Freddie as possible which was very comforting to us. They also presented Freddie with a medal, certificate and CHSF bear after his operation.

Although he was a baby and had no idea, this was a special touch for me and his Dad, and shows every patient is thought about.”

After these procedures, Casey wanted to say thank you to Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) and the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit (LCHU) for saving his life by giving back as much as she could:

“In 2017 Freddie’s dad Zach and a few friends completed the Yorkshire Tough Mudder raising £2,000 for CHSF. Freddie and I cheered them on from the sidelines.

In January 2018, I hosted a Temple Spa charity night, where every guest received a facial, raising £400.

Most recently I held The Little Hearts Ball in April, a fabulous evening to celebrate our amazing boy, supported by Freddie’s friends and family along with local businesses, raising around £3,500.

This has opened up other fundraising opportunities I am so excited about and the ball will now be an annual event.”

Having run a successful ball, Casey had the following advice for other fundraisers:

“A lot of people told me hosting an entire ball would be too much. I agree it was very hard and stressful, but I loved every second and managed to raise a lot of money and host a night everyone could enjoy.

I think trying to involve your supporters by participating in your event makes it easier to raise money rather than constantly asking them for sponsors so you can complete the event.”

Casey is a tremendous advocate for CHSF and LCHU, and she summed up why by saying:

“On behalf of myself, Zach and of course Freddie himself I’d just like to say thank you to CHSF for being there to evolve the ward, provide extra equipment no matter how big or small and being a friendly face when our family really needed it.

We’ve just celebrated Freddie’s 1st birthday and without the charity, we may not have done. So thank you a thousand times over.”

A huge thanks to Casey, her family and all their close supporters! It’s plain to see where Freddie gets his strength from!

If you’re looking to get involved with Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, take a look at our latest events. If you’d like to share your story, please e-mail or visit our #BecauseofYou page.