To her mother, grandmother and those around her, Gracie Green is a champion, and now that title has been made official, since she's the Heart Champion for the 27th Capital Region Heart Ball.
Green, 7, has already had heart surgery and may have a pulmonary valve replacement after she turns 10, but she is able to live a normal life, and that's why her story will be told to inspire others with heart-related diseases on Saturday, March 20, from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs.
Green's mom, Jaime Lafferty, described her daughter's condition in simple terms: She has a hole in her heart and a valve that doesn't work properly. The medical name for the common congenital heart defect is Tetralogy of Fallot, which is diagnosed at birth and can sometimes make affected children turn blue.
That was a scary feeling because after my mother and I found out, she looked blue to us all the time, said Lafferty.
Green did have a "blue spell" at 6 months old, and after surgery to patch the hole, she became an active 7-year-old with essentially no restrictions. She plays soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter, plays piano, has done ballet, tap dance and hip-hop dance since she was 3 years old. She also takes an active role in community groups like 4H and Girl Scouts. Green has even done her part to help other girls by donating her hair twice to Locks of Love, an organization that provides wigs to those who have lost their hair due to cancer or other diseases.
"She's able to do all these activities and do some of her favorite things, like going on roller coasters at amusement parks," said Lafferty. "It would break my heart to have to tell her she couldn't go on or do some of those things."