Bre and Brandon knew their daughter, Ava, would be born with two congenital heart defects (CHD). Immediately after her birth, she was airlifted to Cincinnati Children’s from West Virginia and admitted into the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU)

“There we found out she actually had three heart defects and other complications,” Bre says. Ava underwent and recovered from several operations. She needed one more major heart repair, but also needed time to grow strong enough for the procedure. 

So, Ava and her family lived at the Ronald McDonald House, and her personality bloomed. “She smiled and tried to roll over,” Bre says warmly. “She loved going out in her stroller. We felt like a family.” 

But Ava’s heart defects were severe. Complications arose. As Ava lost her fight, her parents held her close, promising to do great things in her name. Their promise became the A Heart Like Ava Foundation

Each year on Ava’s birthday, Bre and Brandon hold a 5K to raise money for CHD research and care packages for families whose children are in the CICU. So far, they’ve raised more than $38,000.

“We lived at Cincinnati Children’s for six months,” Bre says. “To us, there’s no better way to honor Ava than supporting the Heart Institute and the compassionate work they do for families like ours.”

For more information on how you can support intensive care and research at Cincinnati Children’s, contact Lauren Bosse at 513-803-0639 or