Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg, Billy’s Italian, rally to support teen with heart defect

Published 2:43 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A couple of months ago, Desiree Seaton was just like any other 15-year-old in Warren County.

The rising sophomore at Warren Central High School had aspirations to join her school’s color guard troop when a sports physical indicated a major health issue.

Born with a congenital heart defect, Seaton’s mother Cassandra Jones-Busby said her daughter had been cleared by her doctors at age 2 and lived a normal life up until recently, when a heart murmur indicated her condition was worse than anticipated.

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Seaton’s official diagnosis is ventricular septal defect (VSD), commonly known as a hole in the heart, between the bottom two chambers of her heart.

“We got her diagnosis two weeks after birth, but at two years old, (the doctors) said she didn’t need to be followed by a cardiologist anymore. They said the heart had formed a closure itself,” Jones-Busby said. “But going to the doctor now at 15, they said that’s not the case, and it’s not a closure — it’s a blockage.

“So now, she’s got an old man heart.”

Seaton’s family has always been aware of a heart murmur, but Jones-Busby said she’d never imagined her daughter would have more health issues. If it wasn’t for a routine physical, she said, she didn’t know what would happen to Seaton.

“If she hadn’t pursued color guard, we’d probably still be thinking (Seaton) was OK with the cardiologist stuff.”

If the fear and worry over her child’s health wasn’t enough, Seaton’s immediate medical needs also triggered insurance woes and mounting medical costs. Jones-Busby said she and her husband are both hard-working people, but her insurance only covers 80 percent of her daughter’s care.

With every doctor’s appointment costing $1,500 out of pocket, the amount not covered by insurance is staggering.

Enter Heather Sumners and the Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg. Jones-Busby said she contacted Sumners to ask what the Junior Auxiliary could do to help her family and, from there, the response was tremendous.

Ashley Gustafson, who chairs the Junior Auxiliary’s Helping Hands fundraiser, said she felt compelled to act when she heard Seaton’s story.

“We were founded on helping children, and we meet various needs of children that arise in our community,” Gustafson said. “Junior Auxiliary tells all its members that they are the eyes and ears of the community, and any time they hear of children who have difficulties or anything going on that we can assist with, to let us know.”

On Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m., the Junior Auxiliary and Seaton’s family will host a fundraising event at Billy’s Italian Restaurant and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. The money raised will help cover Seaton’s existing medical costs and the family’s needs as she faces a six-month recovery period.

Gustafson said the fundraiser would not be possible without restaurant owner TyAnn Ellis, whom she said was generous enough to donate 15 percent of all proceeds during the event to Seaton’s care.

“It is just tremendous, and we’re so thankful to have their support and that of the community,” Gustafson said.

If all goes well, Seaton will undergo heart surgery in September.

As of Tuesday at 2 p.m., a GoFundMe account for Seaton raised $6,358 of its $8,000 goal. To donate, click here.