Six years ago, in the corner CICU room 5 and the adjacent CICU room 4 of St. Louis Children's Hospital you would find Oakes Ortyl and Easton Weis -- two brave boys both born with a congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. At the crib side, you would have seen their mothers, Becky and Brittney, who were fearful, emotionally exhausted and wanted nothing more than a miracle for their boys. The crappy club called child loss is a club Becky and Brittney never wanted to join, and one we can never leave, yet is filled with some of the best people we've ever known. And yet we all wish we could jump ship– that we could have met another way– any other way but this.

Today, the two of them stand hand-in-hand to support families of children battling congenital heart defects financially, emotionally and in ways unique to their needs through Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation. Through their personal pain and grief of child loss has grown something truly beautiful. While CHD took them from us, it didn’t steal them. Oakes and Easton will always be our beautiful, brave boys. They were and will always be ours to keep. Their broken little hearts changed our lives forever and we truly feel honored to now stand beside congenital heart families in the struggle to have hope against the odds, to find peace in the battle, to choose love over fear – always in love and honor to them.

Becky Ortyl

Brittney Weis

Co-Founder, Executive Director and Oakes' Mom

Easton's Mom