Everyday Hero: Woman knits hats for newborns to bring awareness to heart disease

By Eric Levy, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, January 08, 2018, 10:18 AM EST

There is a woman in Central Florida who has a big goal for little babies. Jo Marks, along with others, is knitting hundreds of warm hats for newborns at Florida Hospital.

  • Jo Marks knits hats to bring awareness to heart disease
  • Heart disease is America's number one killer

"It's a little thing, but it's my little thing," Marks said.

You might think it is a big thing once you find out what she is doing. She is making red beanies for babies at Florida Hospital.

"It's real touching, real heartwarming that people are willing to step up and volunteer their time to do something like this," Marks said, mentioning the help she recently received.

Marks saw a Facebook post a few years back calling for red baby beanies for Chicago. That got her thinking that Central Florida needs something like that.

"Little Hats, Big Hearts" is the American Heart Association's campaign to collect red baby hats to raise awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect.

Hundreds were donated the first year thanks to Marks' efforts and the number keeps growing as the volunteers become more plentiful. It does not make the blanket maker much time to make one, either.

"Twenty minutes," she said. "I had to time myself because I didn't know the answer to that, and I had so many people asking, so 20 minutes."

"Everybody has their own reason for doing something like this, to me you're making an effort," said volunteer Martie Marnell.

Marnell has a reason. Her husband had heart issues during the 2004 hurricane season and the doctors at Florida Hospital provided that care, so this is her way of giving back.

"Each stitch that you're putting, that everybody's putting, is made with that little extra love, that little prayer, that that little recipient of that beanie is going to make it through," Marnell said.

Marks is feeling overjoyed.

"Incredibly moving and touching to my heart, and I hope that next year I can make even more," Marks said.

The beanies will be worn by babies, who are born in Central Florida during the month of February.