JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The American Heart Association's Central Kentucky Division announced a new award in honor of a young boy from Nicholasville just in time for Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week. Seven-year-old Finn Collier was a lobbyist for the American Heart Association for almost his whole life.
"He would mostly tell people that he had a special heart, and that he had had open heart surgeries," said his mother Tricia Collier.
Finn was a fighter in a way even top doctors could not fully explain.
One doctor asked Finn's father John, "'Do you believe in God?' and I said, 'Yeah, clearly I [do].' And he said, 'No,' he said, 'your son's alive because God wants him here.' He said, 'I can't medically--He shouldn't be here.'"
During his short seven years, Finn survived five serious heart surgeries for his five out of 12 congenital heart defects.
But in April 2019, an arrhythmia took his heart up to 400 beats per minute.
"When he went into sudden cardiac arrest in April, there was no warning sign," Tricia Coller explained. "He had been to Chick-fil-A to have lunch, he had been to Malibu Jack's to play. They had come back home, they were saying goodbye to some friends, and he collapsed. And it came from, literally, out of nowhere."
During the past year, the Collier family has spent time healing and also moving forward.
"So maybe it needed to shock people to make them understand that these kids do have a rough go and it can happen," Tricia Collier added.
In Finn Collier's honor, the American Heart Association decided to carry on Finn's legacy with an award titled the Finn Collier Youth Service Award. It is meant to honor kids under 18 who are raising awareness for congenital heart disease, the most common birth defect.
"It's Kids Learning CPR, right? It's kids trying to get raise a little bit of money for their class," John Collier said. "Or, you know, whatever. I mean it's, I think these kids can be creative and however they want to, to get themselves involved, because I think they do. There's a lot of kids that do a lot today. And we've just never--we've never said thank you or recognized it, right? And I think that's another thing is is showing your appreciation for what they are doing."
The Collier's will take submissions through March 31. To submit an entry, contact the American Heart Association Central Kentucky Division by emailing Lisa Edwards at Lisa.Edwards@heart.org or calling 859-317-6885.
"I want people to understand that heart disease is not just an old person disease, it's the one thing that I really really want to come out of this is for people to see there's a range of people affected by this," John Collier added. "I think the more you talk about it, the more you see it. And if you can get younger kids involved in it from a very early age, I think it starts. You start to change hearts and minds."