Boy born with heart defect named 2016 'Heart Hero'

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) --- 40,000 infants are born with a heart defect every year in the U.S. In Wisconsin, heart disease is the leading cause of death.

A young boy who's been dealing with heart problems since he was born and Madison's chapter of the American Heart Association has named him this year's heart hero.

He may look like your average 7-year-old testing out a new bike, but Keegan Inman Bingham has been through more than most kids his age.

"It's difficult to deal with sometimes," his mom, Brenda, says.

She has watched him go through multiple surgeries after he was born with a rare heart defect.

"He had his first open heart surgery when he was two weeks old, and then he had a second one about 3 months old, and then he finally had his third open heart surgery when he was three years old," she says. "He's had a few other surgeries since then, but for now he's good until he has to have a transplant."

Keegan has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The left side of his heart can't pump blood to the body, so the right side is doing all the work.

"It's more likely to find a bigger heart than it is to find a child heart, so that's why they do these surgeries to buy more time," she says.

But even through all the surgeries and then some, Brenda is shocked by his can-do attitude.

"It's amazing to see how he's taken everything," she explains. "I mean he's gone through other health issues. He's got lung issues now and he's developed autism over all this and he's also lost his father to cancer, so it's just been him and i dealing with all of this together. It's been hard."

Tuesday, none of that is on their minds. That's because he's being fitted for a new bike and helmet after Schwinn and the American Heart Association picked Keegan to be the heart hero for their upcoming race.

"It's something he deserves to have a break for I think," Brenda says.

And although Keegan can't play contact sports because of the defect, biking is clearly the perfect sport for him.

"He loves riding bikes, so he couldn't have been a better person to be picked for this," Brenda says.

Keegan will lead the bike parade at the Madison Heart Walk coming up on September 24th. All are welcome to attend the walk and kids are welcome to join the bike parade. Activities begin at 8:00 a.m. and the walk starts at 9:30 a.m.

For more information, visit madisonwiheartwalk.org.