U-M Mott team dedicates Heart Walk to unborn child

Ethan's Emissaries walking in honor of baby with hypoplastic left heart syndrome

More than 2,150 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each day — one every 40 seconds. Similarly, one person in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies from stroke every four minutes.

The University of Michigan Health System is making great strides in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease through top-notch clinical and research capabilities. The American Heart Association supports these efforts and funds many cardiovascular research studies within U-M. In return, U-M is a major supporter of the AHA’s 2014 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run, which raises money for cardiovascular education and research.

Rallying for baby Ethan

On May 10, hundreds of U-M employees will put on their walking shoes at the Eastern Michigan University campus and join the effort to help fight heart disease and stroke.

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The Ethan’s Emissaries team is 26 members strong. Photo: Leisa Thompson

This year, Ethan’s Emissaries — one of the dedicated U-M teams — will be walking in honor of an unborn child who has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. HLHS is a rare condition in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. The baby’s mother, Betty Esquivel, a medical assistant at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Medical Specialty Clinics, is due to give birth to Ethan on May 21. He will face several surgeries, including at birth, 6 months and 2 years.

To show their support, Betty’s co-workers, led by team captain Dianne Sadler, have organized one of the largest Heart Walk teams under the U-M umbrella. Twenty-six members strong, Ethan’s Emissaries is also leading the way in its fundraising efforts.

An outpouring of support

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Betty Esquivel is due to give birth to her second son, Ethan, on May 21. Photo: Leisa Thompson

For Dianne, a referral coordinator at Mott Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Medical Specialty Clinics, the decision to walk for Ethan was a heartfelt, easy decision to make. She had participated in several Heart Walks in the past in memory of her husband, who died of a stroke in 2002 at the age of 50. This year, after hearing Betty’s story, Dianne wanted to show her support, and the Heart Walk proved to be the perfect way to do just that. She began by sending out emails to co-workers. “I was surprised by the responses I received. So many people wanted to support Betty and her unborn child.”

This outpouring of care has been an inspiration to Betty, who plans to be at the walk … unless she receives a Mother’s Day gift in the form of baby Ethan’s early arrival. Betty’s husband, Andres, plans to walk as part of the Ethan’s Emissaries team, along with the couple’s year-old son, Emiliano.

Betty is overwhelmed by the support she’s gotten from her co-workers. “I really appreciate the 26 people who are walking for Ethan,” she says. “It makes me very happy.”

Take the next step:

  • To join the U-M Team, visit washtenawheartwalk.org.
  • For questions or help registering, contact Tara Tomcisk (tara.tomcsik@heart.org, 734-945-5895) or Traci Fischer (fischert@med.umich.edu, 734-232-1866).

new_logos_180x1806For more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including a #1 ranking in Michigan and national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.