New congenital heart defect license plate to benefit heart center

Peoria-based RaeRae of Light, with the help of District 22 State Senator David Livingston, will soon launch a specialty license plate supporting congenital heart defects.

The was approved by the state Senate and House and signed by Governor Doug Ducey in April 2021.

RaeRae of Light was founded in August 2020 in memory of baby angel Reagan, who was born in 2019 with a critical congenital heart defect but suffered complications and died just six months later.

Approximately $17 from the sale of each license plate will be distributed by the Arizona Department of Health Services directly to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Heart Center. These funds will be dedicated to the research and medical equipment needed to advance the treatments needed for children with coronary heart disease in the hope that one day a cure will be found.

To purchase a CHD Special License Plate, visit https://azmvdnow.gov/plates. Specialty Plates can be purchased at any time, even if registration is not currently due.

RaeRae of Light is a young non-profit family organization whose mission is to raise awareness and support families affected by congenital heart defects.

RaeRae of Light hosts two fundraising events throughout the year. Rae’s Hits for Hearts is a mixed softball tournament played in the spring at Paloma Community Park. This year, the event takes place on April 24. Registration and further details can be found on the non-profit organization’s website, RaeRaeofLight.org.

In December, the nonprofit organizes Rae’s Hike for Hearts, an easy-to-moderate hike at Thunderbird Conservation Park. Last December, more than 400 hikers registered, seven times more than the previous year.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects, but they are vastly underfunded and lack awareness. Each year, approximately 40,000 or 1% of babies born in the United States are born with coronary heart disease. Of babies born with coronary artery disease, 1 in 4 are diagnosed with critical coronary artery disease and will require surgery or other procedures within the first year of life.

Pediatric hospitalizations with CHD accounted for approximately $5.6 billion in hospital costs in 2009, according to the CDC. They are one of the leading causes of childhood illness and death associated with birth defects. Although medical advances continue to improve infant survival rates, there is currently no cure.

Parents of children with heart problems often report that their children’s condition prevents them from doing what other children do. Parents have reported that these children have more difficulty with learning, concentration, communication, self-care, and fine and gross motor skills than children with special needs without heart problems.

In addition to the medical costs of care for CHD, families of children with CHD may face other costs, such as high out-of-pocket expenses, financial problems, longer hours of care, abandonment or reduced working hours to care for their child and a deterioration in mental health.

RaeRae of Light seeks to build community and expand its presence in Arizona through corporate donations.