Overcoming Obstacles: Heart Hero Jermaine



My name is Jermaine Napier. I was born July 3 1986, and five months after my birth, was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).  Mine is  known as Shone’s Complex. Dealing with Shone’s, I endured two open heart surgeries, the first at five months and the second at three years old.

Normally when I tell someone I have Heart Disease they say something like “I am sorry to hear that”. But to be honest, I have never known life without CHD. They told my mother that my brain function may be too low to enter regular public schools, but she refused to see her child treated that way, knowing his potential. In kindergarten, I remember wearing two back packs instead of one.  The first had the normal books and crayons but the other was connected to me.  

When you count the hours and days my family has spent by my side, my life took so much time out of their own. Sometimes I think my family has been more impacted then me. The responsibilities of a parent are tough enough. Children are unable to recognize that despite what may be going on in their parents’ personal lives, they still have to work a nine to five, not only to take care of the regular bill but any difficult situations that may arise. They say it takes a village to raise a child. For me the village was always there by my side, a mixture of my parents’ friends, extended family, CHD family, church family, and even their co-workers. That I can be thankful for.

My father was a track runner so it was automatic that my sister and I ran track & field. But what about running with CHD? All my life I ran recreation track until the age of thirteen when I decided to live my life, my way.  

Some of my lowest points came in my youth when I thought about my future and all the things I might miss out on like graduations, and birthdays. I began to research my disease and what I found was devastating. I would tell myself “Why worry about the future when they say you may not have one?” I stopped caring about life and only cared about myself. My grades in school were affected and I can recall my teachers telling me how great of a personality I had but to me that didn’t matter because I didn’t have much time.  Ignorance is bliss and before I researched my disease I never thought about dying. I am thankful I still graduated.

Sometimes, life slows you down and can change your entire outlook. At the age of 18, I hit a tree going 90mph. My accident put me in a coma, gave me a broken femur, required me to have reconstructive facial surgery, dental surgery, and to have to amputate my right leg. The tables turned and who would’ve thought that the strongest muscle in my body at the time would be my heart.

Through this journey, I’ve realized that CHD has prepared my spirit to overcome anything. After stepping out of fear and recognizing that was hope in the future, I dedicated myself to learning how to eat, walk and live all over again. Fast forward to today I have reached the age of thirty, am married, with a one year old named Juliana Grace, am a chef, speaker and athlete.

A hero to me is not just one who overcomes adversity, but one who can encourage others.

The Heart Hero Cape has given me comfort. The cape has allowed me to see the future and given me the opportunity to be a hero and encourage others. The Heart Hero Cape is a representation of a community full of Hope.

My life has taught me that everyone is born with a purpose, some choose to discover it, and some do not. But everything that is created is created for a reason.  I always remind myself that normal is whatever you want it to be in your reality. In my reality CHD does not define me, I define CHD.

Posted in: Advocacy, Awareness, CHD, Heart Hero of the Month, Heart Heroes

Leave a Comment (13) ↓


  1. Vanessa Singletary October 23, 2017

    What a beautiful story you are shinning like a diamond. They say life teaches us lessons. Yours has turned out to be amazing so very proud of your accomplishments and how far life has brought you. Keep on keeping on and you have had a great team support around you always you live by examples! Be blessed

  2. Clarisa Thomas October 23, 2017

    From the bottom of my heart, I am so proud of you brother! Keep pressing, keep praying, keep motiving, keep inspiring.

    Your Sister

  3. Tony October 23, 2017

    Knowing you personally,I could be more proud of you.God is alive in your life story.Stay well Maine.

  4. Hazel McFadden October 23, 2017

    Congratulations Jermaine, God has blessed you with many gifts and you wear them well. Keep being a demonstration of God’s Grace

  5. Katrina Hicks October 23, 2017

    I have known Jermaine since birth. He has gone through and endured quite a bit in his life. Because he didn’t let his ups and downs sway him from his belief in God, he is a blessed young man. He is an example of what God will do when you let Him. GOD BLESS YOU Jermaine.
    Mom Hicks

  6. Bobby V October 23, 2017

    Jermaine, you have become quite the inspiration to those who inspired you. Keep pushing forward and paving the way for those coming up behind you. Congratulations my brother. You are proof that life is AWESOME!

  7. Zelma Watkind October 23, 2017

    I am so proud of you. You have overcome so much and the fact that you are willing to share your story says volumes about the young man you have become . Keep up the good work !!

  8. George & Alice Black October 23, 2017

    Jermaine we are very very proud of you and pray God’s continued blessings upon you and your beautiful family. Love you.

  9. Shelley Vincent October 24, 2017

    Amazing story! You are indeed a hero. Being able to still have hope and faith after everything that you’ve been through is absolutely amazing! May God continue to bless you!

  10. Marsha Chavis October 24, 2017

    Jermaine, I am a friend and ex-coworker of your Mother, I remember your car accident and the worry she endored. Your testimony in encouraging as well as “What the Lord has for you is truly for you! May God continue to bless you and your entire family!!!

  11. Jake Holmes III October 27, 2017

    Awesome story. God is good man, you have come such a long way and Im so proud of you!

  12. Tosha Williams October 28, 2017

    Jermaine’s Mom helped me to view her son as a young man with a heart full of life, not as a person with heart problems. This article is proof of that positive outlook.

  13. Jerome &Saundra Napier October 31, 2017

    So proud of our son Jermaine Napier! Thankful to God for blessing us with him and taking us on this journey. We have grown as parents and want to say to other parents to never give up on your children. Keep the faith! To our village and you all know who you are are, a big thank you❤️.
    The Napiers