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Growing Hearts, Minds, and Dreams

Cypress survivor serves as a National Ambassador for the American Heart Association

Article by Chelsea Dillon

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Just because you have a special condition doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing life. That’s the personal philosophy of Alexa, a soon-to-be CFISD middle school student born with a congenital heart defect (CHD).

At just 7 years old, Alexa was selected as the National Ambassador for the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge (KHC), becoming the face and voice of all AHA school initiatives across the country.

“Being an ambassador has been a really fun adventure,” says Alexa. “It opened so many doors and opportunities, and I have met some cool heart heroes that are brave like me. Kids are learning to keep theirs and other’s hearts healthy.”

Alexa was born with Tetralogy of Fallot and pulmonary atresia – a hole in her heart and a missing valve. 1 in 100 children are born with CHD, impacting more than 40,000 babies each year. Thanks to advocacy work from the AHA for health screenings while in utero and investments in research, Alexa’s mom, Tamila, knew about the abnormality before giving birth.

Before her first birthday, Alexa had surgery to close the hole, and two open heart surgeries followed to address the valve. Eventually, she will need another surgery near adulthood. But doctors are optimistic that by the time that need arises, advancements in surgical techniques will result in a much less invasive surgery.

CHD has never slowed her down, though. Alexa loves gymnastics, riding her bike, arts & crafts, tie-dye, and sparkly things! “She is a full-of-life, dynamic little girl, and she is blossoming before my eyes,” says mom Tamila.

Once the year-long ambassadorship came to an end, Alexa continued to serve as a Youth Heart Ambassador for KHC, filming pep talk videos to inspire millions of students.

“To get a video from Alexa is a big deal,” says Lisa Fletcher, AHA Youth Market Director, Greater Houston, who nominated Alexa for the ambassadorship. “Kids all over the country know her face and her story. She does an amazing job of encouraging students to keep up their great work raising awareness to help heart heroes like her.”

“I’m living my best life. I want to inspire others to embrace who they are. Be the best version of yourself!” says Alexa.

Cy-Fair ISD currently has 22 schools involved in KHC and boasts the #1 fundraising school in Texas, #3 nationally. But it’s about more than just raising money. Students learn the importance of activity, sleep, drinking water, and saying no to tobacco and vaping, along with values like kindness and gratitude. “These programs help all students to flourish,” says Tamila.

And if Alexa is any indication of success – Cy-Fair, we’re rocking it!

To get involved or learn more, visit

Pull Quote: “I’m living my best life. I want to inspire others to embrace who they are. Be the best version of yourself!”