History of the Children's Heart Foundation

The story of The Children’s Heart Foundation begins with the joyful life and premature death of Sam Peterson.

SamSam (pictured at right), the 8-year-old son of Betsy and Steve Peterson died Jan. 3, 1995, of multiple organ failure brought on by a sudden heart-related collapse. Doctors have never understood why Sam was born with complex heart defects or why he collapsed so suddenly. During his short life, Sam proved that modern technology and a love for life could conquer congenital heart defects, if only for awhile. If Sam were born 20 years earlier, he would not have lived a day after his birth. It is only through research that a child like Sam had the chance to survive and make such a lasting impact on those whose lives he touched.

With the support of family and friends, their faith in God and an understanding of the gift given to them through research, Betsy and Steve bravely responded to their loss by creating The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF). Friends, colleagues and leading medical professionals came forward to form the Board of Directors and The Children’s Heart Foundation was incorporated in Illinois in June 1996.

Through 2016, The Children's Heart Foundation has directed over $9.6 million to CHD research projects at leading research centers. As the country's leading organization solely committed to CHD research funding, CHF dedicates itself to advancing the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects.