BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) — Your son is diagnosed with a heart problem while still in the womb. Do you cry? Give up?
Or do you fight not just for yourselves, but others?
That’s exactly what the Williams family is doing, even as their son Joey fights for his life.
Joey was diagnosed with hyperplastic left heart syndrome while still in the womb. He has had eight surgeries, including six open-heart surgeries so far, and he is only 5 years old.
Now Joey is on the heart transplant list.
“Let’s not allow this devastating news to take over our mindset and let’s just focus on all the great moments we can possibly have,” said LaKesha Williams. “You just really look at life completely different.”
Joe and Lakeshia Williams said they appreciate the small things every day they have with their son Joey and his four sisters.
With those four other kids needing a mom and dad, and treatments at MUSC in Charleston, every day became a challenge, and they needed help.
“A lot of people don’t think about what the family sacrifices in order to support their children,” said LaKesha. “We were more than two hours away and we were one of the closest families coming to MUSC.”
“We have met families that unfortunately lost their homes, lost their vehicles, lost their jobs.”
The Ronald McDonald House, United Way and others stepped up for the Williams family.
“If it was not for those different organizations that assisted us, I don’t know how we would have done it,” LaKesha said as she began to tear up. “For someone to just say come over here and say ‘I got this for you.’ It was such a blessing and so inspiring for us.”
The hard work and goodwill of those agencies spurred on an idea for the Williams — how can we help other families in need?
“Our mission is to establish a support system that provides resources for families dealing with long-term hospital care,” explained Joe Williams.
The family created the Joe Lewis Williams III Brave of Heart Foundation. Not to help pay their bills, but for other families.
“We want to make families feel like they are at home away from home,” said Joe. “To assist them through lodging, transportation, meal tickets.”
“It was those times when we really didn’t know where it was going to come from,” remembers LaKesha. “And to be able to give another family other parent’s that stress relief or just another moment. because it’s truly not a day to day thing it is a moment-by-moment thing.”
“If we can take that financial burden off of these families then they can just focus on the health of their child.”
“We truly want to be there we know what it is like and we want to be that shoulder to lean on and sometimes we have to hold each other up.”
The Williams short-term goal is to help families with whatever they need outside of the hospital to make it a little easier.
Long-term, they hope to raise enough money to aid with medical expenses and even create a home in Charleston for families to stay while their child recovers.
If you would like to learn more or donate to the Joe Lewis Williams III Brave of Heart Foundation visit braveofheartfoundation.org.