I first spoke of HeartStrong on day four of Palmer's life. I scribbled some rough designs, which were shortly thereafter turned into the HeartStrong logo we proudly wear on our t-shirts.
The logo itself represents Palmer, his backwards heart from Heterotaxy, and the broken pieces of his body. The "H" in heart and "S" in Strong come together to represent "Heterotaxy Syndrome". Palmer's initials are in the heart that represents the "o" for our last name because Palmer is the heartbeat of HeartStrong.
HeartStrong started as a battle cry. Like most families fighting for a child with CHD, we adopted our team name. We just happened to be the Strong's, and Palmer needed our name more than ever. With a very broken heart, Palmer endured a 21-hour open heart surgery on day nine of his life. Palmer was placed on ECMO life support with an open-chest immediately after coming off of the bypass machine.
I spoke often of HeartStrong, especially to Palmer. The nurses at TCH clearly overheard my words to my son. One night, while Kristen and I were away, the nurses designed this HeartStrong T-Shirt to put over Palmer's patch on his open chest. This was a very beautiful and thoughtful gesture, bringing a smile to our faces, and forcing me to immediately snap a picture.
HeartStrong started as a battle cry, but it turned into so much more. HeartStrong is a way of thinking. It is a state of mind. It is a reality and a promise. This picture of Palmer is my favorite because it represents exactly who Palmer was, a beautiful, handsome boy, with tremendous grit and heart. The reality of the picture represents what HeartStrong embodies and is the epitome of what we want the Palmer Nicklaus Foundation to become.
Reality can be very painful and hard to look at, but it can also be beautiful. It all depends on your perspective. Our perspective was earned through tragedy, pain, unconditional love, and regret. We hope to help others gain a new perspective through Palmer. Stay HeartStrong!