Yellow Brick Road

Holden Flynn

The Tin Man


Holden Joseph Flynn

...and remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

It was at out 20 week ultrasound that we learned of Holden’s Congenital Heart Defect. We were naïve to parenthood and CHDs, but educated ourselves as much as we could to prepare for his arrival. Holden Joseph Flynn came out swinging on October 11, 2011, diagnosed with Unbalanced Complete Antrovetricular Canal, a complex single chamber congenital heart defect. Most people knew him as, “The Tin Man”, a nickname given to him to help better describe his defects to friends and family before he was born.

At only three months old, Holden underwent his first operation to repair his ailing heart.

Arnold Palmer Hospital and Strong Films filmed the ins and outs of that procedure, using the footage to create an award winning film. Holden would go on to require three more operations, before finally being listed for a transplant in October of 2013.

On January 5, 2014, while awaiting a new heart, he lost his battle with CHD.

At home Holden was strong, constantly finding ways to overcome his defect. He was a regular boy who loved fish, swings, and his dog Maggie. While hospitalized he passed his time with personalized wagon rides, often parading around the hospital several times per day. It was his safe zone, and a marker for all who knew his story.

Holden certainly isn’t the first child who has been through this. We’ve met so many families that come armed with similar stories of the amazing CHD battles they’ve watched their children fight through. Many end with victories, while others pass fighting an honorable battle until the end. There is one common theme though, a strong family, banding together to help their child in need.

Over the last two and half years we’ve been blessed to share Holden’s story as he carried on his day to day fight. In his passing we carry his fight in spirit through the foundation created in his name.


Monroe Gonzalez

Blackbird singing in the dead of night.


Monroe Mirlo Gonzalez 

Take these broken wings and learn to fly.

Momo, as he was affectionately called, was a bit of a trouble maker from the start. He was born to Juan and Sara on the third of November, 2013; six weeks early, after a week of labor pains and false alarms.

All seemed right in the world after hours of very, VERY hard work on Sara and Monroe’s part. There was laughter, smiles, and congratulations, until Juan began to hear the words “compressions” “intubate” and “resuscitate” off to his right as the NICU nurses were attending to a very small, and very blue Monroe.

Monroe was stabilized and very quickly walked upstairs, father in tow, to an intensive care unit. Doctors and nurses began to explain that Monroe had a congenital heart defect known as Transposition of the Greater Arteries, and would have to endure open heart surgery once he was of term age.

Juan and Sara were devastated at this news, but did as all parents must, and became brave and courageous for Monroe, who could not be.

During the weeks leading up to the surgery,  Momo lived in the NICU under the care of amazing nurses and doctors. He had immeasurable personality. He was fiery like his mother and stubborn like his father. There was no way that feeding tube was going to stay in if he had anything to say about it. He got older, and chubbier, and the December came, and so did the surgery.

“A success!” The surgeons proclaimed. Juan and Sara were elated. Their baby boy, would be home in no time.

Monroe’s heart stopped five hours after they took him off of bypass. He was resuscitated within an hour, and after a few tests the doctors were able to determine that there was a second, smaller defect. An intramural artery was not providing enough oxygen to the heart itself. There would have to be a second, much more complicated open heart surgery.

Momo defied the odds once again, and once again Juan and Sara praised God for giving their boy magnificent strength, and for giving the doctors unparalleled skill.

The story of the weeks to follow could fill many more pages, but ultimately ended in many tears. Monroe was beset upon by such paramount complications that to ask him to continue to fight became selfish and unkind.

On January 17th 2014, Juan and Sara held their little peach as he bid farewell to this world and sailed on to the next.


Follow the Yellow Brick Road.