By Casey Roark, You're the Cure advocate and mother of Ryder Roark
My name is Casey Roark. My occupation is an interior designer and Owner of Casey Roark Designs which I have been doing for 14 years. My husband Roman is in the Automotive Industry and has been doing that for 17 years. Roman and I have twin boys, Rowe and Ryder that will be 6 years old on September 29th. Roman and I began volunteering for the American Heart Association when we became all too familiar with heart disease. Our Ryder was diagnosed with a severe heart condition, coarctation of the aorta on February 14, 2013. Ryder was 4 at the time and a simple blood pressure check gave his pediatrician the intuition that something was very wrong. Our world changed quickly when Ryder had to go in for heart surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital on February 26th of 2013. Ryder had no pulses from the waist down and had Ryder’s condition gone undiagnosed, it would have been fatal. We are so thankful a pediatric blood pressure cuff was there and that the doctor’s office has made it standard to do a blood pressure check on all patients. That small piece of equipment saved Ryder’s life. Our family is passionate about supporting the American Heart Association in its goal to reduce the number of children born with congenital heart defects, and to make advancements in being able to diagnose CHDs at an earlier time.
Something in our life that we love is definitely being outdoors, whether it's hanging out at a river or lake or being on the beach somewhere we love being outside and spending time together as a family. Our boys love riding their bikes, playing soccer and baseball and just being kids!!! Roman and I probably enjoy watching them do these things most on our time off. We definitely make our time count when we are together because when you go through something like we did with Ryder’s illness …those days of them playing and riding their bikes and your family vacations…those memories are what get you through the scary times.
Ryder is now approaching 6. He is in kindergarten and loves his teacher and classmates and most of all loves to read. He also enjoys sports and art and Ryder loves to sing! He is doing great and all his checkups he has gotten a clean bill of health which we are so grateful for. Now Roman and I are so passionate to make sure cases like Ryder's can be detected before it is too late.
Roman, Ryder, Rowe and I will be attending the National Institutes Health Rally in Washington, D.C. on September 16th and 17th and what excites us most is to get the message to Congress that the American Heart Association needs the funding to keep the message alive about heart disease and stroke. Roman and I would also love to see it that blood pressure screenings are mandatory in the elementary schools. Hearing and eye Screenings are mandatory and these are very important but so is a heart condition that with one simple test could detect something so huge.