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Meet Race, our 2013 Ambassador

Race Essl, of Dalzell, son of Adie and Cody Essl was born in June 2010 and his diagnosis came much sooner than most. The day after his birth, the Essls were told a heart murmur was detected. After tests in Peoria, he was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS.

The heart defect was caused during prebirth development when the left side of his heart failed to form and requires multiple surgeries to correct.

At just 10 days old, Race underwent his first open-heart surgery. After medical complications, a second surgery and a stroke, Race finally went home after 15 months in the hospital. Due to his many health struggles, Race was behind on developmental abilities.

Once home, he began receiving in-home therapy from Easter Seals and just more than a year since treatment began, the Essls already are seeing major advances.

"Because of his amazing therapist, Race has made huge improvements," Adie said. "He is a very energetic 2-year-old! He's learning to walk and loves playing with his big brother, Revin. Race is a miracle and every day with him is a blessing."

She added when Race came home, he was evaluated at a zero-month developmental level but currently is at 12 months because of the help from Easter Seals.