16-year-old Sammi Meister brought heart disease to the attention of fellow students at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami-Dade. She encouraged them to wear red, and handed out red bead necklaces and heart-shaped lollipops.
“It can start from the day you were born and you’re never too young to start living a healthier lifestyle," she said.
Meister was born with a congenital heart defect.
“She has something called ventricular inversion, where her ventricles switched around so the blood was flowing the wrong way through her heart,” explained her mother, Talya Meister.
Sammi Meister needed open-heart surgery when she was 7 weeks old and she has had two pacemakers.
“Now she’s great. She lives a very active lifestyle,” her mother said.
The high school junior plays tennis and is involved in competitive sailing. She can do most things other teens do.
“Except I can’t play contact sports so I can’t do any of that, or go on roller coasters. But otherwise, my life’s the same,” she said.
She is also on the robotics team. Biomedical engineering is her career goal.
Sammi devotes a lot of time and energy to raising funds for the American Heart Association to send children with heart disease to a medically supervised summer camp.
Today she made sure her high school got this message – “go out there, stay healthy, be active.”
To make the point she got some hearts pumping during lunchtime with jump ropes and hula hoops.
On Friday, Feb. 24 there will be a Hearty 5K at the school.