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San Jose Kids Help Others With Heart Defects

By Garvin Thomas
|  Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014  |  Updated 11:36 PM PDT
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Having survived multiple surgeries and numerous scares, you could forgive Audrey and Max Larnerd for thinking only of themselves. But the 9 and 7-year-olds want to help others suffering from heart defects.

Having survived multiple surgeries and numerous scares, you could forgive Audrey and Max Larnerd for thinking only of themselves. But the 9 and 7-year-olds want to help others suffering from heart defects.

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What mother doesn’t like to point out that her children are special; that they stand out in a crowd?

Sterling Larnerd, that’s who.

Sterling, in fact, could not be happier than when her two children, Audrey, 9, and Max, 7, blend right in among their peers.  That’s because fitting in isn’t always easy for be a kid with a pacemaker, and Sterling and her husband, Brian, have two of them.

Both Audrey and Max have been diagnosed with heart block, a rare type of congenital heart defect. Max had first pacemaker implanted withing two days of being born. Audrey got hers two years later. Both will likely rely on them for the rest of their lives.

Still, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the Larnerd family have gone out of their way to help children they feel haven’t been as fortunate.

“They realize they’ve been fortunate,” Sterling says of her children, “that they’ve only had a few surgeries.”

That sentiment explains why Audrey and Max regularly send photos of themselves holding signs of encouragement to children across the country about to get their own pacemakers. The children are actively fundraising for Camp Taylor, a summer camp for children with heart disease.

Audrey attended Camp Taylor for the first time last summer and Max hopes to go with her this year. The money they are raising through a crowdfunding effort will help pay the way for other children to attend as well.

“I think they’ll enjoy all the activities there are,” Audrey says, “and that you get to be yourself.”

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