Volunteers knit thousands of red hats for congenital heart defect awareness

Hats to be delivered to newborns

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thousands of little red hats, knit one by one, will be delivered to babies in Central Florida next month.

Volunteers for the annual "Little Hats, Big Hearts" campaign aim to raise awareness about babies born with congenital heart defects. 

Roughly 40,000 babies in the United States are born with the life-threatening disease.

"It does a great job of bringing in the community and building awareness for something that I personally find to be the most important thing," congenital cardiologist Dr. David Briston said.

The American Heart Association and Massey Services gathered volunteers learning to knit and crochet for the cause.

Cheyla Maynard was learning to crochet for the first time, and said as a mother, she wanted to help families with babies in the hospital.

"I'm arts and craftsy normally, but this is difficult," Maynard laughed as she worked with another volunteer.

The program was created in partnership with the Children’s Heart Foundation and began in Chicago five years ago.

Briston said there is no cure to congenital heart disease, but advances in cardiac care have made survival rates higher.

The volunteer event known as a "knit-in" started with 198 finished hats. The volunteers plan to make 5,000 hats, one for every baby born in Central Florida hospitals during "Heart Month" in February.

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