Heart Camp For Kids With Disease

kids in heart camp, little girl with heart disease
CBS/The Early Show
Every year, USA Weekend magazine honors ten Americans for making a difference in their communities.

On the cover of the current issue are two Californians who aim to battle a silent killer: childhood heart disease. For them, the fight is personal, The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith reports.

Mike Rivard and Yasi Emamian share a bond. They look like the picture of health, yet they are both survivors.

Rivard says, "My parents were told that I would most likely be bedridden by the time I was 18, and probably dead by the time I was in my early 20s."

He's 60 now. Yasi just turned 10.

Rivard notes, "If you saw Yasi walking down the street, you would have no idea that there was a problem with her heart."

The problem was, neither did she, or her family, until one day in kindergarten.

Her mother, Jan Emamian, says, "She was running and fell down. And didn't get up."

Yasi adds, "All I remember, really, is that I was running, and I started to feel sort of funny, and everything looked sort of blurry - like everything's spinning around you. So, it's really scary."

Jan Emamian continues, "I was completely freaked out, because it never occurred to me that a 5-year-old would faint."

They were especially shocked with the eventual diagnosis: Congenital heart disease.

"I didn't really know that's possible for a kid my age to have that happen," Yasi says,"I'd thought that, like, older people were the only ones that had heart disease. But that is definitely not true."

According to the American Heart Association, more children die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer combined. But when it comes to funding, five times more money is spent on pediatric cancer research. Heart disease may be widespread. Awareness is not.