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Lightning Foundation Grant Spotlight: Children's Heart Foundation

by Erin Chenderlin / Tampa Bay Lightning

On April 23, the Lightning Foundation awarded grants to 16 local organizations totaling $120,500 at the Community Awards and Donor Recognition Reception. Grant applicants were asked to detail their organizations and give a proposed program or project, along with a description of how it qualifies under the Lightning Foundation's funding guidelines. The Foundation's Board of Directors selected the 16 organizations. is profiling each of the organizations and the grant they received. Check back daily for a new organization and see how the Lightning Foundation is truly fulfilling its mission to make Tampa Bay a better place to live, work and play.

Children’s Heart Foundation

One of the Lightning Foundation's primary missions throughout the Tampa Bay community is to provide funding for medical research and treatment. In keeping with that mission, the Foundation awarded a continuing grant to the Children's Heart Foundation.

The overall goal of the Children's Heart Foundation is to bring health, hope and happiness to millions of children and families who are impacted by congenital heart defects. They hope to accelerate the pace of research and awareness as well as improve the quality of life and longevity for patients.

The grant funds awarded by the Lightning Foundation will help complete medical research for the Congenital Heart Disease Multi-Societal Database Project. The goal of the project is to create a Universal Encyclopedia for definitions of pre-operative risks and post-operative complications. It is hoped that, through this research, doctors and surgeons, not only throughout the country but throughout the world, will have a common database of terminology about congenital heart defects, procedures and complications. With everyone being on the same page, so to speak, it will make it easier to learn about, and better treat, congenital heart defects in the future.

The Florida chapter of the Children's Heart Foundation, based in Tampa, is funding the ground-breaking research that is being conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs, lead investigator at All Children's Hospital.

"What he's doing is defining terms to make it easier to surgeons and physicians to identify the risks involved with congenital heart surgery," said Ellen Weiss, director of grants and advocacy at the Children's Heart Foundation. "He is defining the risks, so there are common names to talk about the risks involved and to talk about the complications and the outcomes."

Weiss said that as many as one in 100 children suffer from heart defects, but the problem is not talked about as prominently in society as she feels it should be. Many people don't realize how common heart defects in children truly are, she said, because the defect is internal and there are no outward signs like a scar or hair loss.

"We're just trying to get the word out that heart defects are prevalent in children and are extremely deadly," she said.

Weiss said having physicians and surgeons worldwide using the same terminology will go a long way in helping treat and prevent post-operative complications, and she stressed the importance of Dr. Jacobs' work.

"It's a really big, global project that he's working on, so we're thrilled that the Lightning have seen the importance of this and have funded us both last year and this year," she said.

"We're proud to be partnering with such an organization that is so prominent and well-respected in the community."

The encyclopedia is set to be finished and published by the end of this year.


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