By Makenzie Atkins
Josh Andre, a 17-year-old Newsome High School senior, works with the American Heart Association (AHA) after enduring his own continuing health journey and encourages us all to learn more about AHA and congenital heart disease (CHD).
A great way to get involved in the cause is to show support at the annual Tampa Bay Heart Walk. This year’s walk takes place on Saturday, November 20, and all are welcome. Though it is not required, you can register online to participate. Josh told us that everyone is welcome to donate but just showing up is more than enough because the more people out there spreading the word, the better.
Among other heart issues, Josh was born with five holes in his heart, causing him to have his first open heart surgery at 12 hours old. Since then, he has pushed through three more open heart surgeries.
At 8 years old, the AHA reached out to Josh to honor him at its annual Heart Ball. After this, Josh began to work with the AHA more frequently and realized that he really enjoyed getting to help others like him while learning more about his CHD.
Despite all that Josh has been through, he has become an amazing student-athlete at Newsome High School. Josh is ranked in the top 20 of his class and has been a four-year starter on Newsome’s golf team. He even played baseball for nine years prior to switching to golf. Josh plans on attending college next year and while he isn’t sure where he will end up, he knows he will be going on to medical school after in hopes of becoming a cardiologist.
“I want to show that even with CHD you can still play baseball, you can still play golf,” said Josh, “you can still live a normal life.”
With his mom being his biggest supporter, his family hopes that by telling their story, they will be able to help many others.
“We were told after he came out of the first surgery that if he’d been born five years earlier, he would have died. They would not have known how to fix it,” said Josh’s mother, Stephanie Andre. “Imagine if we can help a child born five years from now?”
Josh and his family wish to bring more attention to heart health and fitness, hoping others join them in supporting the cause.