Rosie’s Little Red Dress Pin

The year my sister was dying as a result of a congenital heart defect that is common and successfully treated now with surgery, but then posed an enigma to physicians, she was given these little red dress pins from the American Heart Association.  Because the congenital heart defects wasn’t the mission of the American Heart Association and she had never received support from them, we felt a little funny about them, but then we looked at the dress.  It was flirty.  It was girly,  It was Rosie.  So we wear them proudly because though they are to raise awareness of women’s  heart health, to us, they raise awareness of adults with congenital heart defects and in particular, Rosie.

Like the little red dress, she had spunk and sass and a bit of a quirkiness to her sense of humor that made us laugh often.  A ride anywhere with her was sure to end in giggles because she could find humor in the most prosaic things and quick quips were spoken in the driest tone making the delivery of the message as funny as the message itself.  I don’t know if we’ve ever laughed as much since she’s been gone.  

She also carried herself with a confidence that is portrayed in that little red dress.  She had multiple scars from five open heart surgeries but a dipped neckline didn’t bother her.  She was proud of every one of them and never let it bother her when people stared and pointed and made negative comments.  Those were her scars of life.

So we’ll wear the little red dress pin and celebrate Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day by delivering heart pillows to pediatric patients, whether they be newborn or 36, like she was when she had her last open heart surgery.  We’ll wear red and “think Rosie”.  We’ll remember the grace and courage and spirit she showed even as her body, her heart, gave out.

Remembering Rosie.  Wearing red.  Feeling sassy through our sadness wearing the little red dress pin. 

God, let her know we love and miss her…we know she’s right there with you.  


2 thoughts on “Rosie’s Little Red Dress Pin

  1. Hi Patti. Thank you for your blog post. First of all, so sorry for your loss. Rosie sounds like she was a beautiful and sassy girl.

    While the pin is actually The Heart Truth’s and not American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women, the red dress is meant for any woman at any age. Our mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. That includes CHD. You’ll be please to know that we are the second largest funder of CHD research, behind the U.S. government. From 2007-2010 the AHA funded 267 grants – totaling nearly $39 million dollars – to support research related to the development of the heart and vascular system; to the causes, prevention and treatment of CHD; and to specific diseases in infants and children. We will continue to grow our efforts around CHD research and awareness programs in future years.

    The loss of your sister and many other CHD children is close to our hearts. Please know that we’ll continue fighting in her honor. Best wishes.

    • Thank you for your comment to my little blog. Here is my reply: In 1964, my sister was born with Tetrology of Fallot in addition to other heart complications. Our young parents were told to contact the American Heart Association to see if there was any funding, education, support or aid of any kind they could receive to help with what was at the time groundbreaking pediatric heart surgery. They received a response that told them a congenital heart defect was not a heart disease and the American Heart Association’s mission was the prevention of acquired heart disease. Up through her death in 2001, the American Heart Association never responded to her repeated call to action. It was in late 2000 that the Zachary Brook Endowment and the AHA Legacy of Life for CHD were founded that congenital heart defects were accepted by the AHA as part of their research mission. Your own website’s statement and guidelines relevant to congenital heart defects begins with articles dated in 2003. Many CHD websites report that the AHA’s support is a penny on the dollar donated and the donation has to be written to specify it is for CHD – I have not taken up my time to verify this as I am not writing a research article but sharing my thoughts and memories on my blog. Our family’s personal experience with the American Heart Association from 1964 through 2001 did not leave us feeling great about it. That said, I personally think the AHA is number one in raising awareness about acquired heart disease and prevention of heart disease, I love teaching AHA BLS classes, and in looking at the research milestones there is tremendous relation to acquired heart disease.
      In regard to the Red Dress Pin in the image on my blog, when we were given these the giver told her these were AHA red dress pins; when the AHA started the Go Red for Women Campaign with the red dress pin, we erroneously thought we must have a different version of that pin. I never knew there was anything else to it, but in researching today I see that you are correct in that the pin on my blog is from the Heart Truth Campaign.
      No matter where the pin came from or what the AHA does or doesn’t do as far as funding research for congenital heart defects, the purpose of this post is to honor and remember my sister by wearing a pin that reminds us of her as we celebrate Congenital Heart Defects Awareness week February 7th – 14th this year.

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