James Island little girl trying to raise awareness about heart disease

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Volunteers from around the country are joining the American Heart Association, in connection with The Children's Heart Foundation, to celebrate American Heart Month by knitting and crocheting red hats for babies born in February at participating hospitals.

The "Little Hats, Big Hearts" program, honors babies, moms, and heart-healthy lives in a very special way. Supporters are knitting and crocheting red hats to be given out to thousands of babies during American Heart Month in order to empower moms to live heart-healthy lives and to help their children do the same.

More than 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects, in the U.S., each year.

That's about 1 in 100 babies.

"Cardiac malformations are still the highest cause of infant deaths," Dr. Eric Graham, MUSC's Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, said. "Particularly for children born with a congenital malformation. So there's a lot of research that still needs to be done to try and improve this because of the huge emotional and financial strain on families."

And trying to help relieve that strain is why 7-year-old Sophie Seagle has put her hands to work. Ashlie Seagle, Sophie's mom, said Sophie came home one day and had learned one of her friends was having a birthday for a sibling who they couldn't see because she was in Heaven.

Sophie, immediately, wanted to help.

"Her heart is enormous," Ashlie said. "She is always thinking about other people."

The family came across a Facebook post about the "Little Hats, Big Hearts" program – and from there Sophie started knitting hats.

So far, Sophie has knitted four hats – but her goal is much more.

"I plan on doing this the rest of my life," Sophie said.

Together, the American Heart Association is working to raise awareness, provide resources and inspire moms to take their family's heart health to heart while also raising awareness about Congenital Heart Defects.

If you knit or crochet and would like to participate in Little Hats, Big Hearts, please select your state, or the state nearest you, for more information on deadlines and where to send your hats. They are also accepting donations of yarn.

If you don't knit or crochet you can still make an impact with your financial support by making a donation.

To find out where to send finished hats, head to the website and select your state. The organization has a database of participating hospitals and points of contact across the country.

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