Hearts in Harmony

Original Post Date: March 2012

The month of hearts is coming to a close as Valentine’s Day and other major “Go Red” events for the American Heart Association have come and gone. That’s not stopping one ten-year-old girl from doing everything she can to raise awareness. Ten-year-old Katelyn Jackson has been through more in her short life than many have throughout adulthood. People who know Katelyn say she’s brave and extremely generous. I spent several hours Saturday afternoon at the Saint Louis Galleria, getting to know Katelyn and the song she inspired.

It was a typical Wednesday morning commute to Lindenwood University, when I heard a promo featuring St. Louis Singer/Songwriter Erin Bode and a 10-year-old girl. Cornbread in the morning always provides pure entertainment, but on this particular drive a great song for a great cause caught my attention. Remembering the details, I researched what exactly “Hearts in Harmony” was all about.

Just four months after birth, Katelyn Jackson went in for her first round of surgery to fix a heart defect called, complete AV canal. In other words, Katelyn was born with a large hole in her heart. For more information on this rare heart disease, visit the American Heart Association’s website.  Katelyn Jackson has had six open heart surgeries, because when she was born she had a Complete AV Canal. After hearing a digitally recorded version of Katelyn’s unique heartbeat, Saint Louis singer and songwriter Erin Bode knew she just had to incorporate it in to a song.    Katelyn and Erin teamed up with the Saint Louis Children’s Hospital, Washington University’s Heart Center, and the Saint Louis Galleria to perform the song live for mall shoppers.

Erin performed the song live every three hours and the event offered EKG’s, jump ropes, and hula-hoops. People could listen to their hearts, talk about what foods are heart healthy and enjoy snacks while watching Erin perform.

When talking to Katelyn, she explained what she hopes people will learn from the cause. “I hope that people will take heart disease more seriously, and be cautious about what they eat and what they do…just to give hope to other families, that’s really the basic goal of this.”

Many people stopped what they were doing to hear Katelyn’s story expressed through Erin’s song.  “She’s a wonderful child, very sweet, really giving and generous. That was something that struck us right away. Something we wanted to express to other people,” Erin said.

It was truly an honor to hang out with Katelyn and Erin throughout the event, and from what I’ve been told by both, this is not the last we’ll be seeing the duo perform.

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