They’re inseparable, witty, and quite entertaining.
Blake Galligan, 8, and Jack Schocket, 10, are best friends. The two now share a bond that most kids their age don’t. The boys are advocates for heart health and will be recognized for their hard work at the American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards.
Blake was born with a condition called Hypo- Plastic Left Heart Syndrome. It caused only the right side of his heart to develop, leaving the left side unable to perform its function.
Blake had his first open-heart surgery when he was seven days old, the second at five months, and his third when he was three.
“It’s ultimately that series of surgeries that has allowed him to have the life that he's had thus far,” Blake's mother Tiffany Galligan said.
Blake's will to overcome his obstacles got the attention of his friend Jack. Jack, raised funds in honor of Blake during last year’s Jump Rope For Heart program.
But the 10-year-old didn’t stop there.
Jack did a science fair project on the benefit of physical activity using the AHA’s NFL Play 60 educational resources.
Additionally, he went from a BMI that was “at risk for obesity” to a “normal” range, and both he and his dad lost weight and gained speed and endurance.
According to the AHA, this unique friendship and level of devotion to heart health is remarkable and coincides with the awards’ theme of ensuring young boys grow up to be strong men of character and health.
“I'm like Blake has a special heart and this is about helping the heart, so I used to do this project and it could help him,” Schocket said.
AHA officials say Blake and Jack’s story is so special because it marries research (Blake was diagnosed at one-day-old because of newborn Pulse Oximetry screenings advocated for by the AHA) and prevention (Jack was implementing AHA’s daily recommended amount of physical activity.
The Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards will be held at the Hilton-Americas in Houston Wednesday. To read more about the awards, go here.