Friday, April 29, 2011

Heart Hero Capes help Heart Heroes Cope

By Shelly Burke, Editor

Seeing doctors and being hospitalized can be scary for anyone—and children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) can become very fearful as they face multiple doctor appointments, frequent tests, and lengthy hospitalizations.

Sondra Dubas (mother of Ashley, now 9 years old), Kitty Burton, (mother of Sam, now 4) and Vanessa Shoemaker (mother of Sofia, also 4) wanted to help their own children and others face the challenges and cope with these stressful events that are a result of being born with CHD. They were inspired to start Heart Hero Capes, an organization that provides capes for kids with CHD to wear to help them face often scary appointments and hospitalizations.

About one baby out of 100 is born with CHD, meaning approximately 250 kids in Nebraska and 40,000 throughout the United States are born with CHD every year. Many of them face open heart surgery to repair the problems (some face multiple surgeries) and all face many hospital and doctor visits throughout at least their childhood. Many times their parents cannot be with them during a test or surgery, and the child feels very alone.

Sondra says, “When kids put on their Heart Hero Capes I can see that they feel extra power and courage. It’s a symbol that helps them cope with all they have to go through. As the kids find courage in their capes, parents find support from others they meet at the hospital and through Heart Hero Capes.”

The co-founders of Heart Hero Capes knew they would not be able to manufacture the capes, so partnered with a company in Michigan. Sondra says that God’s hand was in the decision to have another company make the capes; when they called Power Capes to discuss a possible partnership the company had just made the decision to align with a cause like Heart Hero Capes. The affiliation has been very successful; in the year or so since they started, about 400 capes have been distributed throughout the United States and as far away as Australia.

Kids design their own heart Hero Cape at the Power Capes website, choosing the color of the cape as well as an initial, character or symbol that will adorn their cape. A heart hero patch is also sewn on each cape.

All donations to Heart Hero Capes go toward providing capes for kids whose families are unable to pay for them (a donation of only $25 will allow a needy child to receive a gift card good for a cape he or she designs). Kids who want a cape can pay for them or apply for a free one.

Future Heart Hero Capes goals include “getting capes to as many kids as possible,” spreading awareness of CHD, and fundraising. Sondra says that with enough funds, Heart Hero Capes can be expanded so the capes can be distributed worldwide, making it a little easier for more kids to deal with the diagnosis and treatment of CHD.

To order a cape, donate, or for more information go to or, or e-mail

Sondra is working on a book documenting her daughter’s journey with CHD, through tests, hospitalizations, surgeries, and complications. The Nebraska Family Times will keep readers updated on the progress of her book.

This article appears in the May issue of the Nebraska Family Times. If you would like a FREE sample copy, call (402) 993-2467 or e-mail:   

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