Oklahoma football pro starts fundraiser after friend’s child diagnosed with heart defect

A Heart 4 Kids

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Their scars tell one story, but their little smiles tell so much more – a perspective of just how truly fragile life can be.

“When I meet or hear those stories, I’m a really soft guy so I cry easy. I see those and I just choke up because I’m very grateful,” Brandon Weeden said.

These are the stories of Oklahoma children who can make even the toughest guys tear up.

“When you have a doctor walk into your room just after you gave birth, and they tell you that your son is very sick you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know if he’s going to make it through the night,” Gina Sadberry said.

That’s Xavier’s mother, and sadly Xavier never made it to his first birthday.

“He’s not the first case that was born with congenital heart defect, and he won’t be the last, but if his life and my life can be an example to give someone hope, then my son’s life is not in vain,” Sadberry said.

And it is not.

Eight years ago, Brandon Weeden had just gotten drafted.

He and his wife, Melanie, were on top of the world, but another young couple, Adam and Faith Kuykendall, friends of the Weeden’s, had started out on a much different journey.

Their son, Gavin, was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“They were fresh out of college, so the funds weren’t there. It was tough on them financially,” Weeden said. “It was probably tough on them mentally and through their marriage. I can’t imagine the obstacles they had to go through.”

Oklahoma did not have the type of surgeon Gavin needed to see. So, they had to travel out of state for his surgeries.

“That kind of hit home with me, because not having a child, not having a child who was sick, I didn’t know that Oklahoma City was without a surgeon for so long,” Weeden said.

At the time the Weeden’s did not have children, but they wanted to help and reached out to Children’s Hospital.

“And I remember when they told us what they wanted to do and try to raise a million dollars, I was like how in the world am I going to raise a million dollars doing a golf tournament?” Weeden said.

Here they are eight years into Brandon Weeden’s “Swing from the Heart Golf Tournament.” 

After this last year, they have reached that one million dollar mark.

“I’ve always been passionate about kids especially kids like Gavin who have lived a pretty tough life in a short amount of time. It was very close to my heart, and now that I have kids even more so,” he said.

There is just something parenthood does to you, and when you combine that and an athlete like Weeden, big things happen.

And little Gavin? He is now an athlete, too.

One of many Oklahoma children who’ve overcome so much at such a young age.

And that is what the tournament is all about – helping Oklahoma families by funding the pediatric heart program to keep Oklahomans from having to travel out of state for life saving care led by Dr. Harold Burkhart.

“Just to be a small piece of what they do at children’s hospital and keep kids in the state of Oklahoma,” Weeden said. “He’s world renowned. I called him a stud whenever I first met him.”

But the real studs are the children.

“I’ve always just said if somebody can be impacted by this then all my tears are worth it,” Kennemer said.

“We’re going to need more people than just me,” Weeden said. “There’s going to be a lot of people from the outside that we’re going to need to bring in to raise the funds.”

If you’d like support The Children’s Hospital Foundation visit http://chfkids.com/donate/.

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