14-year NFL veteran Greg Olsen is one of the most consistent tight ends to ever play the game and left his legacy on the league with 741 catches and 60 touchdowns. However, it is what he does off of the field that defines what an awesome dude he really is.
On Monday, 35-year-old Olsen and his wife, Kara, helped to unveil The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., alongside Atrium Health. The couple helped to develop the concept and fund the building over the last eight years.
A very special guest is here to help us share the big news! @GregOlsen88 is not just an NFL player 🏈 he’s the founder of Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. And he and his wife, Kara, have helped us make big strides in heart care ❤ pic.twitter.com/p4hB95MsS9
— Levine Children’s (@LevineChildrens) December 7, 2020
While Olsen was playing for the Carolina Panthers and living in Charlotte, a place they still call home, their son T.J. was born with a congenital heart disease. Learning from their experiences in getting T.J. the help that he needed, Kara and Greg started The HEARTest Yard in 2013. The program helps to raise money and provide in-home services for families that bring their children home following heart surgery after birth.
“The way we look at it is our role was to try to fill some gaps that along the way we as a family encountered,” Olsen told the NY Daily News. “That was the whole reason for starting The HEARTest Yard in the first place under the guise of providing in-home, very privatized health care. For a lot of families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it on their own dollar, we were able to kind of fill that need, because we saw what a value that was providing it for ourselves years earlier.”
After years of working with the hospital and developers, and a $2.5 million donation from the Olsens in 2019, the hospital opened a 25,000-foot facility on Monday.
The state-of-the-art center has the ability to house all of Levine Children’s Hospital’s pediatric services in one place, something Olsen is particularly proud of.
“It will house our neurodevelopment clinic and also all the other subspecialties that make up the pediatric cardiac program,” Olsen said. “All those sub clinics will be housed in one place for the first time ever. And we’re just really excited to bring this to the community and the market, because it will really be a very unique space that our region of the country really doesn’t have.”
Some of the features include a dedicated fetal echocardiography lab, 25 patient rooms, and additional technology and advancements to meet patient needs. The clinic also features a separate space for adults with congenital heart disease and will enable the Levine Children’s and Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute teams to provide specialized and personalized care for patients from before birth through adulthood.
Greg and Kara Olsen are two amazing people and their generous contribution was the difference in making the dream a reality.
The entire ribbon-cutting ceremony can be found here: