Midwest Heart Connection was founded by Sue Petersen and Tracy Adams, both residents of Nebraska and mothers of children with congenital heart disease (CHD). They found each other online and were a great support to each other during years following their children’s CHD diagnosis. Knowing their own needs and desire to communicate with other parents of CHD children, they created a group which would provide that support for all interested parents.
We are here to provide support for children and adults with CHD, as well as their parents, families and friends – including personal communication, encouragement and assistance; access to CHD community; dissemination of educational materials and information on CHD; and distribution of surgery day care kits.
Midwest Heart Connection is a non-profit corporation under IRS Code 501(c)3.
To provide support for children and adults with CHD, as well as their parents, families and friends – including personal communication, encouragement and assistance; access to CHD community; dissemination of educational materials and information on CHD; and distribution of surgery day care kits.
To raise awareness of CHD by providing the general public with knowledge of the disease and information regarding the occurrence, detection and treatment of CHD; and to encourage the community to be more aware of the needs of those with CHD.
To raise funds for pediatric cardiology research, and educational and treatment resources, so that more children with heart defects will survive, live longer, and lead an improved quality of life.
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."
Sarah ThomasExecutive Director
Sarah lives in Omaha with her husband, Darren, and two daughters. She is a mental health counselor and currently stays home taking care of her girls. Her eldest daughter was born in Dec. 2015 with complex congenital heart disease and spent 69 days in the hospital undergoing 3 heart surgeries and other procedures. They received a MHC care kit while in the hospital. Soon after, she knew she had to be involved.
Anne LoudenbackCommunications Director
Anne is Senior Executive Director of Youth Development for the YMCA of Greater Omaha. She grew up in Lincoln and was a camper, volunteer and former staff member at Camp Kitaki. After moving back to Nebraska she connected to MHC through the medical team at Children’s Hospital Omaha. “I learned about the amazing work they do to support families like mine through outstanding programs like Camp Kitaki and couldn’t imagine a better organization to get involved with.”
Aaron OstlerSpecial Events Coordinator
Aaron has 7 kids with his wife, Kristyn. Their second son was born with multiple congenital heart issues and ultimately passed away 1 week later. Their youngest son was born with TGV, but after open heart surgery has recovered with a great prognosis. Touched by activities MHC provided to his family in the hospital, Aaron chose to be a part of the organization to support others. He enjoys meeting new families, sharing experiences and seeing all the kids grow.
Kari is a civil engineer with a career in construction management in Omaha, NE. She is a mom of 4 boys under the age of 8 with her husband, Brad. Her youngest son was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy with LVNC which resulted in a Heart Transplant when he was 6 months old. She has found solace through MHC and works with the organization to help ensure that support can be provided for future families that are in a similar position as her.
Tami SteensmaMembership Coordinator
Tami joined the MHC Board of Directors in 2005 after her son was born with CHD in 2003. “Nothing can prepare you for what is to come when you discover your child has CHD, but meeting families in similar situations makes all the difference. You laugh together, cry together, and celebrate each milestone.” Tami is proud to help MHC bring families together for activities, outings, in-patient hospital meals, and their annual fundraiser, Hearts of Hope.
Jenny Strawn, BSN, RNMedical Advisor
Jenny is a pediatric cardiology nurse at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, NE. She is passionate about serving as a liaison to help facilitate the mission of MHC by spreading the word to other families. She is also the Director for Camp Brave Heart of Nebraska, which provides a medically safe and fun summer camp experience to children who have a congenital heart defect or heart disease. MHC is a proud sponsor of Camp Brave Heart.