$2.5 Million Gift to Advance Cardiac Care at Atrium Health Levine Children’s

09.07.2023 Atrium Health News | Levine Children's

Greg Olsen Foundation commits to expand and sustain excellence in congenital heart care

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 7, 2023 – A $2.5 million gift to Atrium Health Foundation’s Giving Hope campaign will further advance the pediatric heart program at Atrium Health Levine Children’s. The donation from Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation will support the continued development of the HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center, as well as establish an endowed chair for the program.

“The support of Greg and Kara Olsen and Receptions for Research has been instrumental in creating an extraordinary space to care for children with congenital heart disease,” said Dr. Gonzalo Wallis, chief of pediatric cardiology and medical director of the pediatric heart failure and transplant program at Atrium Health Levine Children’s. “Transformational gifts like this help position us among the best health systems in the country,” Wallis added. Levine Children’s cardiology and heart surgery program ranked No. 8 in the nation on U.S News & World Report’s "Best Children’s Hospitals” list, earlier this summer.

The Olsen’s support – which has spanned more than 10 years and nearly $10 million in donations – has changed the trajectory of congenital heart care at Levine Children’s. In 2012, after their son T.J. was born with a congenital heart defect, the Olsens teamed up with Levine Children’s to launch the HEARTest Yard Initiative. The mission was to assist families who require home health care for children born with congenital heart conditions.

Since that time, Greg and Kara Olsen, along with supporters of their foundation, have achieved many “big wins” for Levine Children’s patients and their families, including opening a cardiac neurodevelopmental clinic and establishing the HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center in 2020 – a game-changer for congenital heart patients in the Carolinas.

“There is nothing like this center,” said Greg Olsen, referring to facilities available in the Southeast region of the United States. “Kara and I had a vision to bring a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive program to support all cardiac babies and patients in the area. To see this come to fruition and to continue to experience the care, first-hand … it’s remarkable.”

The Olsen’s recent commitment will support the center’s specialized care programs, such as the neurodevelopmental program, children’s high-acuity monitoring program (CHAMP) and the pediatric Fontan clinic, which provides ongoing, holistic care to patients who have had a Fontan procedure. In addition, the donation will help drive innovation in education and cardiovascular care delivery through the establishment of an endowed chair.

“This endowed chair will enable us to not only recruit and retain the best and brightest in congenital heart care, but to recognize faculty with honor and distinction,” said Wallis. “We thank the Olsens for their vision, inspiration and their relentless drive to provide excellent care and hope for our patients and families.”

Greg Olsen was a three-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Carolina Panthers during his nine years with the team, part of a distinguished 14-year career in the National Football League, Olsen is now Fox Sports television’s lead color commentator on NFL broadcasts. In addition to T.J., he and Kara have two other children, Talbot and Tate.