Age: 12 Hometown: Winnetka, CA Game: UCLA vs. Orgeon View game photos
Twelve-year-old Noah loves reading mystery books, caring for animals and conducting science experiments – interests she continues to pursue while being treated for congenital heart disease. During a routine prenatal exam, Noah’s parents learned that she had a very rare birth defect called heterotaxy syndrome, a disorder which caused Noah’s internal organs – including her heart – to form on the opposite side of her body.
Since her birth, Noah has undergone countless emergency department visits and four major corrective heart surgeries, including three major cardiac surgeries at the age of 5. But despite her life-long hardships, Noah maintains an optimism and fortitude admired by all who know her.
“I try not to dwell on the fact that I’m different and that I have to do things that other people normally wouldn’t have to do,” Noah says. “Every time I feel stressed or wonder if I’m going to be OK, I think about all the things that I have to look forward to in life.”
Inspired to help other families facing similar challenges, Noah and her family organize an annual “Festival of Life” fundraiser in support of the Hopeful Heart, an organization that provides financial support to families with children suffering from congenital heart disease. Noah also hosts a lemonade stand throughout the year to further support the organization and families in need.