Kristi’s Heart Hugs held it’s 3rd annual Carnival Fundraiser to support families dealing with heart conditions on Sunday. Kx News spoke with families on how Kristi’s Heart Hugs has made a difference in their lives.

“I was scared of the future. I was just hoping he would be alright. I thought it was crazy that it’s happening to me,” said Erin Viseth, Bismarck resident.

As a first time mom, Erin Viseth is dealing with the challenges of being a parent. On top of that, her son has a heart defect and a rare chromosome disorder at just 16 months old.

“It’s a lot of doctors appointments and traveling for surgery. It gets to be overwhelming,” said Viseth.

But it’s organizations like Kristi’s Heart Hugs that take some financial burden off of North Dakota families born with a congenital heart defect.

“These families are diagnosed before these children are born and they often have to go to Minnesota for open-heart surgery within the first week of their life. So, we help with the travel expenses, meal expenses for these families when they have to travel,” said Kristi Lafrenz, Founder of Kristi’s Heart Hugs.

But this service isn’t just for kids, Kristi’s Heart Hugs provides support, resources and overall care for a lifetime.

“If it wasn’t for this organization, I probably wouldn’t feel as good as I feel because a lot of times you kind of go through depression not knowing what the outlook is going to be like. Just having those people to lean on and those other families to understand how you are feeling and what you are going through,” said Kayla Kostelecky, born with a heart defect.

As a way to support those families, each year they host a carnival fundraiser where people can play games, eat, and participate in a silent auction.

As for Viseth, she says being a mother is the best thing to ever happen to her and is grateful for the support of Kristi’s Heart Hugs she has behind her.

Since Kristi’s Heart Hugs started the fundraiser three years ago, it’s helped 53 families.