HENRY'S HEARTS GALA
An annual gala to raise funds for families with excessive financial burdens traveling to New Orleans due to a child having a congenital heart defect.
The Henry Aucoin Foundation is a nonprofit organization created in order to help families coming to New Orleans with children requiring heart surgeries, procedures, medication, equipment and transplants, as well as to give back to the community through special projects & events. We seek to improve the experience and quality of life for pediatric heart patients and their families.
Because we have been there.
Through our own personal experience with our son Henry, we met many people who made us feel extremely grateful for our support from family and friends. We also realized how lucky we had been to not suffer from any extensive financial burden as a result of Henry's lifesaving heart surgeries and procedures. We realize that every family is unique and ours has been incredibly fortunate. When Henry was discharged from Children's Hospital of New Orleans, we made a commitment to give back to the community and to families with pediatric heart patients like ours. At just 11 weeks of age and a mere 7 pounds, Henry had already taught us so much.
Henry Aucoin Foundation intends to use funds raised from the annual gala to give back to the New Orleans community to improve the experience and quality of life for heart patients and their families.
When Susan Aucoin was 29 weeks pregnant she was told that she had twin to twin transfusion syndrome, a rare disease of the placenta that only affects identical twin pregnancies. Her OB then sent her to a specialist who discovered a congenital defect in one of the twins; that babywould have to have open heart surgery soon after birth.
That day she left her OB's office with her husband Dwayne, totally distraught. When they got into the car Susan called a close friend who is a pediatric specialist and asked her "What is transposition of the great vessels?" Her response was "Oh God, not one of the twins?" Susan immediately felt numb and nauseated.
Susan and Dwayne were advised to interview pediatric CT surgeons at the local hospitals and decide where they would want the baby to have surgery. Interview them? They didn't even know what to ask them. But Susan's friend and her OB guided them and they pulled themselves together. They interview doctors and surgeons at three different hospitals, and made lists of pros and cons. Then they made a decision and went with it. Was it the right decision? Susan asks herself that question to this very day. But then she reminds herself that Henry is still here so it was indeed the right decision.
On April 27, 2009 Henry and Benjamin were born. Henry came out first and was quickly taken to the NICU. Neither Dwayne nor Susan were able to hold Henry. Or touch him. They were just able to look at him. Later that day he was transported to the NICU at Children's Hospital New Orleans.
Henry's surgery was scheduled and rescheduled, due to issues with his health, for days. His first open heart surgery took place on May 15. Susan & Dwayne were terrified as Henry was whisked away to surgery. Doctors had prepared them for the worst. They told them to pray for a miracle. They said that IF Henry survived the surgery itself that they expected Henry to come out of his surgery on a machine that would breathe for him and a machine that would circulate and oxygenate his blood for him (most commonly called ECMO).
Complicating matters, Henry was the smallest baby that his surgeons had ever done this particular surgery on. He only weighed a mere 4 1/2 pounds and his heart about the size of a quarter. Some 13 hours later, despite his size and the grim warnings, Henry's surgery was successful. Henry came out on oxygen but never did require ECMO. No one could explain it. I am not sure they could understand how or why Henry did so much better than expected. But Susan smiled to herself and thanked Henry's angels above.
Susan distinctly remembers the first few days being home after the twins were born. There were gifts and things stacked in Henry's crib. People would offer to wash them and put them away but Susan always refused. Dwayne finally asked her why and she said she was not ready yet. She wanted all of it to be easily removed if something terrible should happen to Henry. That same night Susan had a dream. She was coffin shopping at a funeral home with her husband's deceased father and her husband's deceased grandfather. (She realizes this sounds strange) The three of them were looking around and Susan stopped at an infant coffin covered in cob webs. Susan looked at her father in law and he shook his head then told her "Don't worry. You won't be needing that." And then he smiled at her. She woke up the next morning with a great sense of peace and knew everything would be fine for Henry. She went into the nursery to check on Benjamin and saw Henry's crib full of everything. She took it all out, washed it and put it away. From that dream on, she knew everything would work out and it most absolutely did. Henry's angels above took the very best care of him and gave him the strength he needed to pull through.
After two months, on June 28, Susan and Dwayne were finally able to hold Henry for the first time. Soon after that Henry was able to meet his big sister Emily. As a parent, this was an incredible moment. Emily was just 2 1/2 and had a difficult time understanding why only one of her brothers could come home when they were born and why one of them had to stay.
On July 12, Henry was finally released from the CICU and he was re-united with his twin brother Benjamin after 77 days apart. Then on July 13, Henry was finally able to go home. It was a long and rocky road but Henry did much better than anyone had anticipated. Henry was discharged on minimal medication and soon thereafter taken off of all medication.
The Beginning of Henry Aucoin Foundation
Just before Henry was discharged from the hospital in July 2009, a childhood friend of Susan's asked she and Dwayne to participate in the New Orleans Heart Walk in honor of Henry to help raise awareness to pediatric heart patients. Soon thereafter they created Team Henry. Team Henry has participated in the New Orleans Heart Walk benefiting the American Heart Association every November.
But Susan still wanted to do more. Since Henry was first in the hospital Susan wanted to do something to help other pediatric heart patients and their families traveling to New Orleans for treatment. Over dinner one night with another childhood friend Susan decided she was going to do something. She went home to tell Dwayne and he thought she had lost her mind. He was hesitant not of the project itself, but of the time and monetary requirements to begin a foundation. Susan owns a monogram business with a close friend called Thread of Louisiana. She was working part-time for her children's pediatricians at Collins Pediatrics. Not to mention her largest, most important (and unpaid) job of wife and mom to three children. But Dwayne went along with it. He knew Susan had determination.
So in February 2013, the Henry Aucoin Foundation was established, in honor of their son, Henry. The goal is to raise money for the American Heart Association through Team Henry and to raise funds through Henry's Hearts gala to grant money throughout the year to pediatric heart patients traveling to New Orleans for treatment. The grants are to help those that are placed under a financial burden due to surgery, procedures, medications, equipment, travel expenses, etc. They also have dream for multiple special projects in the community such as a transportation van for patients and Henry's House to help house patients and their families so they do not need to live in hotel rooms for weeks and months.
So many infants and children need help just as Henry did. Susan believes Henry was sent here to give her and Dwayne a reason and a purpose to do great things for others. Henry has given them the will, determination and desire to help others like him and their families.
Henry has taught Susan & Dwayne so very much in his short life. Henry is a constant reminder to be grateful for what they have. They feel so lucky that they are able to know what it means to just have all three kids home with them -- screaming, fighting, playing, all of it -- but they have all 3 with them. Because their lives would be so very different had Henry not made it through. Henry turned 5 in April 2014. He is a daily reminder that miracles do exist.
Henry, Susan, Emily, Benjamin, Dwayne
In honor of Henry we participate as Team Henry in the New Orleans Heart Walk every year and all proceeds go to benefit the American Heart Association.
Dwayne Aucoin is the Vice President of Operations at State Block in Metairie. He earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from Louisiana State University. He is Co-Chair of Team Henry who participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk to raise funds for the American Heart Association and an annual participant in the DSAGNO Jambalaya Cook off and Hogs for the Cause.
Susan Aucoin is the Office Manager at Collins Pediatrics in Metairie. She earned a B.S. from Louisiana State University and a M.B.A from University of New Orleans. She is aboard member of the Limb Life Foundation and Co-Chair of Team Henry who participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk to raise funds for the American Heart Association.
Betsy Dobson is the Early Childhood Education Director at McGehee School. She earned a B.S. Special Education from University New Orleans, M. Ed. in Early Intervention Education from University New Orleans. She previously worked as a therapist for Early Steps.
Dr. Caroline Straatmann Mansfield is a board certified Pediatric Nephrologist at Children's Hospital New Orleans. She earned a B.S. from Louisiana State University, M.D. Louisiana State University Shreveport, Pediatric Residency Louisiana State University New Orleans , Chief Resident Children's Hospital New Orleans, Pediatric Nephrology Fellowship Children's Hospital New Orleans.
Brian Marcelle has been practicing law since 1997. He earned his B.A. from Louisiana State University, and his J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University. He is currently a practicing attorney and partner at Huber, Slack, Houghtaling, Pandit & Thomas, LLP in New Orleans. He previously worked for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office and as an Assistant United States Attorney in New Orleans.
Lisette Prieto is the Vice President of Operations at DelTech Controls in Geismar. She earned a B.S. Finance from Louisiana State University. She is a member of the ForeKids Foundation, president of the Limb Life Foundation and a previous player on the LPGA Futures Tour.
Kelly Theard is a partner in Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles' New Orleans office. She earned a B.A.Communications, University New Orleans, a B.C.L. Louisiana State University, J.D. Louisiana State University. While attending UNO, she worked at ABC26 News for 2 years. She is a board member for Louisiana Children's Museum, a committee member for City Park LOVE sculpture garden, a volunteer at Junior League New Orleans, a participant in Hogs for the Cause.
Jamie Richard Tubre is a proud wife and mother of two children, John Robert ( 5) and Annie (2). Both children were diagnosed with life threatening conditions three weeks apart. John Robert has Pre B ALL Leukemia and Annie has Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect that required open heart surgery. Both are currently doing well. Jamie is involved in several childhood cancer organizations ( for John Robert) and Henry Aucoin Foundation ( for Annie). She also serves on the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans Parent’s Advisory Council. She is a clinical social work and works for Beacon Behavioral Health, a mental healthcare provider of inpatient and outpatient services.
Roy Taylor Jr., CPA, CGMA is a partner at Taylor and Willis CPAs and Advisors, LLC. He earned a B.S. in accounting from the University of New Orleans. He is a board member for the Louisiana Children’s Museum and works with various not for profit organizations in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
May 2009 - Henry's 1st open heart surgery
November 2009 - Team Henry participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk for the 1st time & raises $4345 for the American Heart Association
November 2009 - Henry receives the Top Walker award for the 2009 New Orleans Heart Walk
January 2010 - Henry's 2nd open heart surgery
November 2010 - Team Henry participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk & raises $4481 for the American Heart Association
November 2010 - Henry receives the Top Walker award for the 2010 New Orleans Heart Walk
November 2011 - Team Henry participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk, raises $5565 for the American Heart Association, and receives Top Community Team Award and Best Shirt Design
November 2011 - Henry receives 2nd Place Top Walker for the 2011 New Orleans Heart Walk
November 2012 - Team Henry participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk, raises $9263 for the American Heart Association, and receives Top Community Team Award
November 2012 - Henry receives 2nd Place Top Walker for the 2012 New Orleans Heart Walk
November 2012 - Henry's 1st Stent
February 2013 - Henry Aucoin Foundation is founded
May 2013 - Henry's 2nd Stent
November 2013 - 5th Year Team Henry participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk; Team Henry raises just under $10,000 for the American Heart Association, receives Top Community Team Award, Henry receives 3rd Place Top Walker Award
February 2014 - First Annual Henry's Hearts Gala SOLD OUT and raised over $53,000
November 2014 - 6th Year Team Henry participates in the New Orleans Heart Walk; Team Henry receives Top Community Team Award and Top Walker.
February 2015 - 2nd Annual Henry's Hearts Gala Goes To The Movies SOLD OUT and raised over $54,000.00
July 2015 - Henry has stents replaced
November 2015 - 7th Year Team Henry will participate in the New Orleans Heart Walk
February 27, 2016 - 3rd Annual Henry's Heart Gala Under the Big Top
September 30, 2016 - 1st Annual Henry Aucoin Foundation City Park Night
November 13, 2016 - 8th Year Team Henry participated in the New Orleans Heart Walk
February 4, 2017 - 4th Annual Henry's Hearts Gala
August 26, 2017 - 2nd Annual Henry Aucoin Foundation City Park Night
November 11, 2017 - 9th Year Team Henry participated in the New Orleans Heart Walk
March 3, 2018 - 5th Annual Henry's Hearts Gala
September 28, 2018 - 3rd Annual Henry Aucoin Foundation City Park Night
November 17, 2018 - 10th Year Team Henry participates in New Orleans Heart Walk
February 8, 2019 - 6th Annual Henry's Hearts Gala