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Alyson Whitaker, Locust Grove

Alyson is a student in Locust Grove, Georgia. She is a hometown hero to many people in the community.For several years, Alyson has participated in the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart. Each year, she has won Jump Rope for Heart not only in her school but in Henry County. Alyson takes the American Heart Association very seriously.

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At only three months old, Alyson was diagnosed with Coarctation of the aorta and was rushed to emergency surgery on October 27, 2005.  

Her parents almost lost her the next day. She spent 27 days in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. To her parents she is a miracle and to many folks a blessing. But, this isn't the only reason Alyson raises money for the American Heart Association

In 2010 Alyson's parents found out they were expecting a baby boy.

They named their unborn son Cole Aiden Whitaker; many knew him affectionately as "Baby Cole." Due to the complications with Alyson, the parents had the baby tested prior to birth and learned he had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR). Against all odds - and the doctors asking them to abort the baby - Alyson's mom and dad trusted in God. Her mother carried Cole full term and delivered him on August 5, 2010 at Northside Hospital; he was then air-lifted to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Cole had his first of what would have been three surgeries, but he took a turn for the worse because his lungs were too weak. After only nine short days, Cole passed away on August 14, 2010. 

If you ask Alyson why she collects money for the American Heart Association, she will tell you it is in honor of her brother "Baby Cole" and to help other children like them to be able to get the proper technology to correct these issues, so they have an improved chance at life. 

To her parents Alyson is a child and sister trying to make a difference in this world and does it in the most compassionate way she knows how. As a family they have witnessed a miracle with Alyson's little heart being repaired and they have experienced loss with Cole. Helping the American Heart Association allows Alyson and her family to give back and to help others who may be going through similar experiences.

Story provided by Alyson's mother, You're the Cure advocate Paula Whitaker in 2014.

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