BIXBY, Okla., Aug. 7, 2023 — John Price Tedesco has a unique story to tell his schoolmates when he goes back to school at Bixby North Elementary School Thursday, Aug. 17. Tedesco, who goes by “JP,” was born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) and had a procedure to replace the battery in his pacemaker over the summer.
The 7-year-old will share his heart experiences over the 2023-24 school year through Kids Heart Challenge™, a school-based program designed to support long-term mental and physical health among students while raising funds to support the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all.
JP was born in Muskogee in April of 2016. A heart murmur was detected shortly after birth, and he was flown to a hospital in St. Louis, where he received a stent while doctors worked to develop a more detailed diagnosis, said JP’s mom, BreAnn Tedesco.
“The stent bought us time until we were able to figure out JP’s heart in more detail,” she said. “This allowed for enough blood flow through his body.” A doctor in Boston eventually diagnosed JP with transposition of the great arteries (TGA), a serious, rare heart problem in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed.
At just 2 months, JP underwent open-heart surgery to correct his transposition and receive a prosthetic mitral valve. The valve was replaced in 2020, and JP received a pacemaker. This summer, he and his mom went back to Boston so doctors could replace the battery in his pacemaker.
BreAnn said JP knows his heart is different than other kids, including his siblings, but it’s never been an issue for him. He likes monster trucks, the beauty of sunsets, Legos, and riding his bike fast, she said.
Last year, in JP’s first year to participate in Kids Heart Challenge, he raised more than $3,000.
“Fundraising not only brought awareness to heart health, but it also gave my son a boost in confidence at his school,” BreAnn added. “Many were not aware of his journey and his continued fight with CHD, so fundraising brought us a lot of opportunities to discuss that with his peers.”
Kids Heart Challenge offers a variety of physical activities to get elementary students’ hearts pumping such as dance, basketball or jumping rope paired with Finn’s Mission, an online component where students can earn digital badges for learning life-saving skills like Hands-Only CPR™ and how to spot a stroke, ways to combat stress, and ideas for healthy eating.
The program has nearly 50 years of proven success rooted in scientific research that shows that kids who are regularly active feel better, have improved mental health, build self-esteem, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior.
To learn more about the Kids Heart Challenge, visit www.heart.org/getstarted.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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