Congenital Heart Awareness Week: Colorado mom gives update on daughter one year after first talking to KKTV

Congenital Heart Awareness Week: Colorado mom gives update on daughter one year later
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 3:16 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 4:29 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - This week, millions of people across the country are observing Congenital Heart Awareness Week.

“It’s, like, one of the deadliest diseases that nobody knows about,” said Rachel Sieracki, whose 3-year-old daughter, Winter Marvel, suffers from a congenital heart defect.

We first met Rachel during this same week last year when she first brought us her story about how this disease has personally affected her life. She told us about how Winter Marvel had to have open heart surgery before she was even three weeks old. By the time Winter Marvel was two years old, she had undergone three open heart surgeries and five cardiac catheterizations but things have been looking up since the last time we spoke.

“I think once you’ve been through a few open-heart surgeries it’s like, ‘Yes! We went one whole year without one open-heart surgery,’” exclaimed Rachel. “This is the most stable she’s been in her little three years of life.”

Besides taking care of her family, Rachel has dedicated countless hours to educating the public and raising awareness for congenital heart disease as the lead coordinator for the Colorado chapter of the national non-profit Mended Little Hearts.

“Through those support meetings and education meetings, we offer resources, we have people come give talks, normal support-group-like things,” explained Rachel.

This week, Rachel and her team have put together multiple events in an effort to help empower and connect anyone who may be struggling during this time, especially the people who have to deal with the direct physical impacts like Winter Marvel.

“Nobody has any idea of how much of a superhero she is because they don’t where their scars out,” said Rachel. “Their scars are internal, they’re physical and they’re emotional and nobody gets to see them.”

  • For more information on events in Colorado for Congenital Heart Awareness Week, click here.
  • To donate to Mended Little Hearts, click here.
  • To read our previous story on Winter Marvel, click here.