What defines a hero? This can be a very personal question to consider. Some may think heroes are those who risk their lives to save others. Some may think a hero is a person who gives up their seat on the bus in order to let someone else rest themselves for a while. Or perhaps a hero is the parent who works hard to raise good humans and keep their own sanity intact. I could come up with about a million other examples of heroes. We are all capable of being a hero spreading good in this world.
One of my heroes is my niece, Devon Jenson. As you may already know, Devon is an extremely important person in my life. She was only here on Earth for 3 ½ years but her impact was huge and I celebrate and honor her life every single day. Devon was born with a congenital heart defect and the wonderful folks at Children’s Hospital MN cared for and did everything in their power to keep her alive. Sadly, she wasn’t able to stay here with us but each and every one of the people at the hospital are heroes in my mind. To that end, I have personally donated to their Heart Program in honor of Devon over the years.
When I created the Jenson Natural Jewelry business, one of the most important goals I set was to donate 10% of my profits to the Heart Program at Children’s. I wanted to use the company as a vehicle to share Devon’s legacy with others and do what I could to support the fine folks there.
Last week, I was at a pop-up market selling my jewelry and hurriedly talking with folks who would pause by my table in the hopes that I could connect with them, not only to sell my jewelry, but to also share the story of Devon with them. The place was very busy so I would have about 10 seconds to make a little speech about what I do. It went something like, “Hi! All of my jewelry is handmade by myself using high-quality stones and wood. If you buy a stone bracelet, I include a card describing what the stones are in that particular bracelet and how to care for the piece so it lasts. I also donate a portion of my profits to the Heart Program at Children’s Hospital to honor the legacy of my niece Devon.”
I made that little speech (probably the 50th time that day) to a lady who paused at my table and she said, “I’d like to hear more about Devon.” So I talked more about her and the lady then said, “Hold on. My friend needs to hear this.” She grabbed her friend and told me to tell her my story. When I was done, the friend said, “What heart defect did she have?” I replied, “It’s called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). It’s quite rare and unfortunately very fatal.” The friend nodded and very calmly replied, “I have created a heart that will fix that.”
My eyes got wide, my mouth dropped open and all I could get out was, “Wha?? Wait…what did you just say? Are…are you…serious? How? Wha?” I felt like an idiot but emotions were welling up inside me and my brain was firing off in all directions. She said that she was a doctor and researcher who has been working for over two decades on a heart that can replace/repair congenital heart defects and that they had successfully gotten the heart to work just that previous week. With tears started to fill my eyes, I said, “You are a hero.” She shook her head, pointed to the picture of Devon on my table and said, “No. She’s the hero.” And then she walked off. The lady who dragged her over to my table gave me a big hug and whispered, “She’s too modest. Her name is Dr. Doris Taylor and she created the Ghost Heart. Look it up.” And then they both disappeared (they did buy three bracelets in the middle of all this).
I got on my phone and looked her up. Sure enough, she’s the real deal. I’m not even going to attempt to try to describe what she has done because, even though I have a degree in the science realm, this level of knowledge is far above me. But look her up and see for yourself. The idea that there may be a time in the very near future when those born with HLHS will have a much greater chance to survive blows my mind.
Oh how I wish that Devon could still be with us so she could have had this chance. But…she is still working her magic here on Earth. She was at that market just over a week ago. She orchestrated it all so that I could meet this amazing woman – a person who is most definitely a hero. This was Devon’s way of telling me that I am doing the right thing by leaping into the unknown with this dream to do more with my life than I thought I could. She gave me the sign that let me know that she is proud of her “Antie Kiss”. I can feel her beside me right now as I write this. My little hero is still here and her legacy will live on.