VALHALLA, NY (WCBS 880) – Brooklyn Benedikt is cute as a button, with bright eyes, rosy red cheeks, and a smile that could melt an iceberg.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

Brooklyn, who is 6, is fine, but her father Greg remembers the day the doctor had some upsetting news.

“She looks us both in the eye and very frankly says ‘Brooklyn has a hole in her heart and it needs to be fixed soon.’ And five weeks later, Brooklyn, at four-and-a-half, had open heart surgery,” Greg told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

RELATED: More Stories From Main Street

The procedure is common, but nothing is routine when it’s your child.

“He’s like ‘Yeah, we have to stop her heart to operate’ and you know, I lost it then,” said Greg, who lives with his family in Yonkers.

“When we were having the surgery the first thought is ‘We have to go to the city. We’re 10 miles from the city. We have to go in there’,” he said.

But that trip wasn’t necessary.

Instead, Brooklyn had open heart surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.

“It is an amazing place. We immediately felt at home there,” said Brooklyn’s mother Andrea. “It’s very special.”

“The people, the place, the service, the professionalism. It just blew us away,” said Greg.

The hospital has named Brooklyn grand marshal for the Go The Distance Fun Walk.

The Benedikts have their own fundraising campaign.

“We know money is tight so we just ask people, ‘Can you donate your coffee money?'” said Greg. “To me, it’s a little ridiculous, the money people spend for these gourmet coffees. $5 for a cup of coffee.”

Brooklyn and four-year-old sister Quinn are thinking big for this charity walk. They have a particular celebrity in mind. Justin Bieber if you’re reading this, Brooklyn is hoping you’ll join the walk, or donate some cash.

To find out more about the event and to donate, visit The one-mile walk will take place on the grounds of the hospital on Sunday, April 22, 2012.

Do you have a story to share about the hospital? Sound off in the comments section below!

  1. Joyce Warner says:

    This hospital does amazing things! When our grandaughter, MaKayla was born in Sept 2006 with gastroschesis and complications from it, the Dr'[s at Children’s hospital in Temple TX just couldn’t fix things, and then, when things were looking so bad, my son arrived from Iraq and the 3 of them were flown to this amazing hospital in Westchester, where our precious MaKayla was finally fixed and now thrives. From the moment our families arrived for the first surgery there, we felt as though we had come home. The staff at Maria Fareri are amazingly warm and loving and as a former Nurse, I have to say that although MaKayla went through grueling times, we felt as though we were right where God wanted us to be. After MaKayla’s final surgery and learning she was ok, my son & d-i-l surprised both sets of grandparents by bring MaKayla a book called I’m the Big sister now, and rereading the title a few times until we all looked at each other and the room erupted in chaos to learn we were all going to be grandparents again! and we were blessed with Zachary!

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