BUIES CREEK, N.C. – In conjunction with its men's basketball game Thursday, Campbell University will host Pediatric Heart Awareness Night when the Fighting Camels host Charleston Southern at Gilbert Craig Gore Arena.
At half-time of Thursday's 7 p.m. contest, a video presentation will be shown featuring Brekin Nietert, who is one of the 35,000 children born with congenital heart defects (CHD) each year. In fact, eight of 1,000 children born in the U.S. each year are born with CHDs, the most common type of birth defect.
Brekin is the 3-year-old son of Joe and Amber Nietert and the Godson of Campbell assistant men's basketball coach Brian Burg.
Brekin was born with several heart defects and has already undergone two open heart surgeries, most recently last summer just after his third birthday.
Each year, the Nietert family participates in the Linn County (Iowa) Heart Walk and last August Brekin was chosen as the "Survivor of the Year" to represent the thousands born with CHDs as well as those surviving the fight against heart disease and stroke.
Brekin's parents are school teachers in Iowa. Joe and Coach Burg were teammates and roommates at Mount Mercy College.
Last June, Coach Burg traveled to Iowa to be with the Nietert family during Brekin's second open heart surgery.
On Nov. 23, the Nietert family, including Brekin and older brother Payson, were sitting right behind the Campbell bench when the Fighting Camels won at Iowa 77-61.
During Thursday's Campbell game vs. Charleston Southern, stations will be located throughout the arena where donations will be collected to benefit the American Heart Association and also to help offset the tremendous medical expenses incurred by the Nietert family.