The American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation are gearing up for the fourth year of Southwest Missouri’s Little Hats, Big Hearts. The program that dons newborns with knitted red caps raises awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country. As part of the program, all babies born at Mercy Hospital Lebanon during the month of February will receive a hat.
Early detection is key, which is why the American Heart Association works to spread awareness and fund life-saving research on congenital heart defects.
“Little Hats, Big Hearts brings attention to congenital heart defects – a condition that affects about 40,000 babies born in the U.S. each year,” says Betsy Peterson, Founder of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “We’re proud to be part of this program as it brings together the community to rally around those families affected by CHD. We also would like to thank all the incredible volunteers that share their time and talent to make this program possible.”
The American Heart Association is asking for volunteers to knit or crochet red baby hats to distribute to participating hospitals. Participation is easy, go to heart.org/littlehatsbighearts to find knitting patterns and more information. The AHA is also accepting donations to support the program, including yarn, for those who would like to contribute but don’t knit or crochet.
Little Hats, Big hearts began in Chicago in 2014. The project has grown to include 980 hospitals in 41 states handing out more than 230,000 hats. In Southwest Missouri, this project has grown from two participating hospitals to 10.
In addition to using red hats to raise awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects, Little Hats, Big Hearts also drives awareness for the American Heart Association’s Support Network, an online forum for families affected by heart disease and stroke. This is the third year that Summit Natural Gas has sponsored Little Hats, Big Hearts locally in the Lebanon community.