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Wellingtonians make a splash for kids with broken hearts

Wellingtonians make a splash for kids with broken hearts

1 October 2019

This week more than a dozen teams will take the plunge for Heart Kids, dunking themselves in ice-cold water to raise money for children with congenital heart defects.

Among the plungers is heart adult and now heart mum, Emma-Kate. Born with a rare congenital heart defect Emma-Kate was told it was unlikely she would be able to have children because of her condition. On Friday she will share the pool with her son, heart kid Rossi, on the day of his 12th birthday.

Emma-Kate and Rossi have been through three open heart surgeries between them and countless other procedures on their hearts. The pair, along with Rossi's brother Warner, are taking part to raise awareness and funds for a charity that has done a lot for their family.

‘Congenital heart disease runs in our family – Rossi is due for another open heart surgery in the near future and his one-year-old cousin had her first this year,’ says Emma-Kate.

‘The support we’ve received from Heart Kids over many years has been incredible and we wanted to participate to give back to a charity that has done so much for us.’

Heart Stopper is an annual event, which sees teams plunge for six minutes into ice-cold water, to imitate the cooling process heart kids endure during open heart surgery. Surgeons often pack children’s chest cavities with an icy slush to slow the metabolism and give a longer window to perform life-saving surgery.

Also taking up this year’s challenge is heart adult Jordon who had his most recent heart surgery earlier this year, at twenty-nine years old. Jordon has a complicated series of heart defects called Tetralogy of Fallot. He had a major repair at 20 months old and has had two surgeries since.

‘I wanted to do something to raise awareness for other heart kids like me. Knowing I can do something to help support others going through what I’ve been through, is a great feeling.’

Taking the plunge this year alongside Jordon and Emma-Kate is Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester. Lester has taken the plunge for the past four years.

Heart Kids is the only charity that supports children and families at every step of their heart journey – from when a heart condition is first diagnosed, through childhood, the teenage years and into adulthood.

Practical and emotional support is vital for all those affected, helping individuals and families cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with a childhood heart condition.

Heart Stopper Wellington takes place from 12–2pm on Friday 4 October at Midland Park. More information is available at


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