Fighting heart disease in children

February 19, 2009 10:02:47 AM PST
Congenital heart defect is the most common birth defect, affecting nearly 1 out every 100 babies born in the United States each year. Twice a many children die from CHDs in the U.S. as die from all forms of childhood cancers combined. Chicago Bears player Charles "Peanut" Tillman and his wife Jackie learned about those stark statistics when their daughter, Tiana was born last year. At the age of six months, Tiana received a heart transplant to treat condition called cardiomyopathy. Now the Tillmans are dedicated to spreading the word about heart conditions like their daughter's, and supporting organizations like the Children's Heart Foundation that are working hard to fund research that will someday treat and cure CHDs.This Saturday, Peanut and Jackie Tillman are serving as honorary co-chairs of "Hearts at Play," the annual fund raiser for the Lincolnshire-based Children's Heart Foundation. The family event will take place at the Field Museum, where guests will get a private tour of the new exhibit, the "Aztec World" and will have access to other favorite Field exhibits, including Gems and Minerals, ancient Egyptians, Native American culture and of, course, Sue, the dinosaur. There will be additional activities for children, including face painting and balloon artists. Guests will also enjoy food, cocktails, dancing and entertainment.

The Children's Heart Foundation will host a silent auction of more than 200 unique items including signed memorabilia from the Chicago Bears and the CHF's "Celebrities with Heart" Advisory Board, which includes stars from the smash hit, High School Musical and Shoshana Bean from the Broadway musical, Wicked. All proceeds will benefit The CHF's initiatives which fund the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects.

That evening, the Tillmans will also help the CHF present a $100,000 grant check to Dr. Sunjay Kaushal, Tiana's physician at Children's Memorial Hospital. The Tiana Tillman Research Grant will honor Dr. Kaushal's ongoing cardiomyopathy research.

"Jackie and I are truly honored to be asked to co-chair this event and especially to recognize Dr. Kaushal for his ongoing research which will hopefully someday find a cure for cardiomyopathy - a condition that affected our daughter Tiana," said Charles Tillman. "Through our family's experience dealing with a child suffering from a heart defect, Jackie and I are truly committed to helping raise important research funds and awareness about congenital heart defects - the number one birth defect among babies born today."

Tickets to this private event are now on sale for $100 per adult and $35 per child. Family Circle Sponsor packages are $500 and include two adult tickets and two children's tickets. For more information, purchase a ticket or find out how to support the Children's Heart Foundation, visit

About The Children's Heart Foundation

Based in suburban Lincolnshire, The Children's Heart Foundation is the country's leading organization committed to funding research to help find better treatments ? and hopefully someday a cure ? for children born with congenital heart defects. To date, The Children's Heart Foundation has funded over $3.4 million towards 37 research projects led by the nation's best and most promising research teams ? several of which have gone on to receive funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The Children's Heart Foundation is the only organization created solely to fund congenital heart defect research. There are currently six chapters nationwide, and each continues to expand. The Foundation is not affiliated with any one medical institution or organization, which ensures that the most promising congenital heart defect research continues to get funded anywhere in the world.