Seven months into her second pregnancy, Cindy Castillo and husband Jorge received devastating news – a routine ultrasound showed something was wrong with their baby girl's heart. "We were terrified," recalls Cindy. "So many questions filled our mind. What does this mean for our baby girl? Will she ever grow up to have a normal life? Will she even survive?"
The family was referred to the Alberta Children's Hospital where doctors told them their daughter would be born with critical aortic stenosis, a life-threatening heart defect where the aorta in her left ventricle does not work properly. The team of pediatric cardiologists immediately began charting a plan to provide lifesaving interventions for the baby.
Now 8 years old, Alexa knows her heart is special and that "only half of it works". She's had multiple open heart surgeries and will need a lifetime of care from cardiac specialists. She is a determined, happy little girl who loves playing piano, taking silly videos of herself and is one of the fastest kids on her soccer team.
"We are so thankful for the early diagnosis. Many children diagnosed with congenital heart disease after birth have poor outcomes," shares Cindy. "My hope for Alexa is that she will live a long life, and that with new research and technology, more children will have the chance to grow up healthy."
LPGA Tour professional Lorie Kane has triumphed on the golf course, represented Canada and is recognized as a leader for the sport. As a CP Ambassador, she embodies our ongoing support of women's golf through the CP Women's Open, and helps us elevate CP Has Heart as we continue to raise money and awareness for heart health.
Highlights of her career include 4 LPGA Tour victories, 99 LPGA Tour top-10 finishes and close to $7 million in career earnings. She has represented Canada internationally, including appearances at the Commonwealth Games, through the Canadian World Amateur Team and at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
Presented by Golf Canada to celebrate and honour the most significant contributors to the development and success of the game of golf in Canada.
Bestowed upon the player the LPGA Tour decides best demonstrates determination, perseverance, and spirit through hard work, dedication, and a the love of the game.
Presented by the LPGA Tour to the golfer whose behavior and deeds best exemplify the spirit, ideals, and values of the LPGA.
The second highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada.
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Six days later, however, the family was told that Samantha’s heart had stabilized and she didn’t need surgery right away. Parents Deborah and Richard were finally able to take their first child her home.
After nine years, and countless check-ups at BC Children’s Hospital, Samantha was starting to slow down. “She couldn’t climb the stairs or run,” recalls Deborah.
In May 2008, Samantha had open-heart surgery on the defect she had been living with for so long.
“One of the things she was afraid of was the pain,” says Deborah. “The nurses made her feel much more comfortable.”
Sam’s family and community were a big support to her as well. As the family prepared to leave home in the early morning hours to travel to Children’s Hospital, they saw that the side walk was covered in chalk drawings that spelled out “Sammy We Love You”. Family friends had stayed up late to leave her this hopeful message. As the Armstrong’s arrived to the hospital lobby, more than 30 family members, from near and far, were waiting for the family to wish Sam well.
Sam’s surgery and recover was a success, and she was eventually able to get back to her regular physical activity.
Sam’s experience took a more unexpected turn two years after the procedure, when she developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Counsellors gave her techniques to deal with her distress, and she eventually overcame it. “Now she wants to study medicine,” says Deborah. “She would like to pursue either cardiology or psychiatry.”
Sam now looks back positively on her experience. Deborah says that Sam is “now okay with talking about her surgery; and she wants to share her experience to help others.”
Samantha’s life progress from sick baby to thoughtful, active teenager made her a great choice to be last year’s CP Has Heart Champion.
Ian Millar is an international show jumping icon. A member of the Canadian equestrian team for over 40 years, Ian has represented Canada in 15 World Cup Finals, every Nations Cup event held since he was first named to the team, and has donned the red coat for Canada at six World Championships. In 1988 and 1989, he and his legendary partner, Big Ben, became the first-ever rider and horse combination to win back-to-back World Cup Finals. Equally impressive is Ian's national record - 10-time Canadian Champion, having last won the title in 2007 when he logged an historical one–two finish with his son, Jonathon.
What Ian is perhaps best known for is his unprecedented Olympic record. Ian earned his first Olympic Medal in 2008 at age 61, setting a record for the oldest show jumper to stand on the podium at the Olympics. At the 2012 Games in London. he set a new World Record for number of Olympic starts—10 in total – and has competed in more Olympic Games than any Canadian in history, in any sport. If Ian's Olympic record is impressive for its longevity, his Pan American Games is equally so for its medal count. Ian has earned nine medals in nine Pan American Games—more than any other show jumper.
In September 2014, Ian came first at the CP International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows during the 'Masters' tournament.
Ian was awarded the Order of Canada in 1986, Ontario's Athlete of the Year in 1989, and an honorary doctorate by University of Guelph in 2005. Together with Big Ben, he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. A statue of Big Ben and Ian Millar currently sits on the outskirts of Big Ben Park in their hometown of Perth, Ontario. Today, Ian Millar works alongside his son, Jonathon, and daughter, Amy, at Millar Brooke Farm in Perth.
Ian represents excellence, passion and precision and since 2014, Ian has been a voice for CP's community program CP Has Heart.
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