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Crockett Heart Hero Honored at Hoops for Hearts
 Crockett Elementary’s Heart Hero shoots a basket during the recent Hoops for Hearts event to raise money for the American Heart Association.

Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman

Kaylee Harris, Crockett Elementary’s Heart Hero, shoots a basket during the recent Hoops for Hearts event to raise money for the American Heart Association.

Crockett Heart Hero Honored at Hoops for Hearts

By: Susan Passmore

student holds basketball
Kaylee Harris, a first-grader at Crockett Elementary, prepares to shoot the ball during Hoops for Hearts for the American Heart Association. She enjoys being physically active since recovering from her fourth heart surgery in October.
Having a real Heart Hero on campus made Hoops for Hearts even more meaningful this year for Crockett Elementary students. First-grader Kaylee Harris was honored during the event, and the school received a visit from Rory McFiercely from the Zoo Crew at the American Heart Association. Even though Kaylee just had her fourth heart surgery Oct. 10, she was very much a part of Hoops for Hearts, shooting baskets, dribbling, passing and running.

Kaylee’s parents, Jamie Hoehne and Christopher Harris, found out that Kaylee had a heart defect during an ultrasound before she was born. Diagnosed with Atrioventricular Canal Defect, a congenital condition in which a hole between the chambers of the heart and problems with the valves cause the heart to overwork to pump blood, Kaylee had surgery at four months. She later developed a subaortic stenosis or narrowing of a valve, which caused her to have surgeries at the ages of one, three and six. Despite her medical condition, this lively young lady has never let anything hold her back.

“Six weeks after Kaylee’s most recent surgery, she was eager to get back to school. Kaylee shows up for P.E., working just as hard as her peers. Kaylee enjoys being active and spending time at the beach. She will also be playing softball this spring,” said her mother.

Kaylee also takes her role as big sister to Kinslee, 2, seriously.

“I was kinda scared before surgery, but my last surgery October 10th was fun because they had toys there. My sister played with me there, too,” said Kaylee.

Kaylee loves to learn, and she worked hard to keep up with her reading and math while she was out. She was ready to get back to her class at school, and she appreciated the cards they made for her.

“She is the happiest student I have ever taught. She tries very hard! Everyone in class loves her. She is in a ‘high-achieving’ class and is doing very well academically,” said her teacher Pamela Raymundo.

Although Kaylee is interested in things that any 6-year-old girl would like--playing with her dog Shiner, finding games on her iPad, going to recess and reading--she is more aware of heart health than most girls her age.

“I like ice cream and some healthy stuff, like apples, cucumbers, and I used to like pears. I like to run to get my energy up. When I had surgery, I never got to go outside,” Kaylee said.

During her recent stay in the hospital, Kaylee saw many babies and children preparing for or recovering from surgery. Since she is an expert on the subject, she is willing to give advice to anyone about having surgery.

“You won’t hurt. You’re just going to go to sleep. You won’t feel the pain. If you have a loose tooth, you could lose it in the tube that helps you breathe,” Kaylee said.

Kaylee did lose a tooth in that tube, and she was visited in the hospital by the Tooth Fairy, which made her experience even more interesting.

While Kaylee knows there is the possibility of another surgery in the future, she doesn’t seem worried about it. She just takes everything in her stride and enjoys life.

“She is an amazing, strong and inspiring young girl,” said Hoehne.

Crockett Elementary raised a little over $9,000 for the American Heart Association with Hoops for Hearts, falling slightly short of the $10,000 goal. Anyone wishing to contribute may go to


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