Becky and Greg Ortyl of St. Louis, MO welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Oakes Lee, to this world with open arms on March 10, 2011. Although Oakes was perfect in the eyes of those who loved him, he was born with a congenital heart defect. During his short 15 months of life, he endured several major procedures, including two open-heart surgeries and a double-lung transplant.
Throughout Oakes’ life, even when times became tough, the Ortyls felt very blessed to have so many resources and such wide-ranging support from family and friends. But they know that many families in similar situations are not nearly as fortunate. It is for these families that the Ortyls founded The Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation.
Our vision is families facing congenital heart defects have the freedom to be a family and have hope amidst the chaos. Our aim is not only to relieve financial burden – enabling them to be in the moment with their young warrior – but to listen, share, uplift and strengthen them as they march on.
Part of our mission is to "give families hope amidst the chaos" - in the world of heart defects, when kids are really sick and fighting for their lives, as parents the world can feel like total chaos. I think some of the normal, everyday stressors are amplified (paying bills + the normal hustle of life), yet small concerns that maybe you once worried about fall off your radar completely (those little silly things that we can obsess over - maybe buying clothes in the latest trend, or any concern that isn't essential).
Becky Ortyl is the Executive Director & Co-Founder of The Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation. She joined Jill Devine this week to discuss Oakes and the impact he made in the short amount of time he was on this Earth.
Also, if you’re from the St. Louis area, you’ve probably heard of the restaurant Olive + Oak. The “Oak” part of the name is after Oakes Ortyl. Becky explained more about that in the episode too.
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