By Jordan Alexander Landry-Gibson

My name is Jordan, and I’m writing because the Children’s Heart Network asked me to describe my experience with the Hearts of Gold (HOG) program.

I was born with a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot, and I have had three open-heart surgeries and a stent replacement.

I live in Kelowna, and in 2017, I joined the HOG program and went to my first event. It was the annual camp trip at Zajac Ranch for Children in Mission.

When I arrived, I was pretty scared to spend three days with complete strangers. But as soon as I stepped out of my car, I was greeted with such positivity and kindness that I knew it wasn’t going to be so bad.

After our parents left, we all headed to our cabins, where we would live for the next three days. We did all sorts of fun stuff, like archery and rock climbing. There was a high-ropes obstacle course. We had a talent show by the fireplace, and so much more.

On the third day, we all went to the field and did a lot of activities with water and had water gun fights. One of our camp leaders, Kristy, came up with the amazing idea of having a pudding fight, which would go on to be a tradition for years to come

I recently had my third open-heart surgery and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver. I was really bummed out that I had to go for another surgery, but there was a silver lining because I got to go to a HOG event that wasn’t camp. It was so much fun to paint porcelain figurines with my friends. As I waited for my surgery, I got a lovely surprise when Kristy came over with a signed card from all of my friends at HOG, encouraging me to stay strong and telling me they would see me at camp.

With COVID-19 going around this year, camp was cancelled. I was really sad I couldn’t go and see everyone after the surgery. Our leaders thought of that and sent us each a little package, with instructions to wait until camp week before opening it

When that arrived, they set up a Zoom call, and we had a virtual camp. It was a lot of fun to see everyone after surgery and catch up. We did a talent show, and inside the little package they sent, there was a mini s’mores kit, which was a lot of fun to make

Even though camp was cancelled, we still had fun. I’m so lucky to be a part of this community. They are so nice and welcoming. It was truly a life-changing experience to be with HOG. Thank you, HOG! I can’t wait to see you all next year.

“My Time with Hearts of Gold” is from our summer 2020 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.