Family and friends of “Epic” Ethan Millerick are asking for positive thoughts for the 13-year-old Turlock Junior High Student, who today at approximately 2 p.m. will undergo a double heart valve replacement surgery at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. His mother, Ciara Walsh Millerick, says the surgery will last 12 hours and he will spend three to four weeks in recovery at the hospital.
Epic Ethan was born with congenital heart disease and was not expected to live to see his first birthday, yet through his innate strength and courage he continues to battle. Since birth he has endured six open-heart surgeries and now his fourth in the past five years.
On Saturday, dozens of Epic Ethan’s family and friends from as far away as Southern California, Nevada, and Texas gathered at a residence near Oakdale for a surprise Heart Valve Retirement ceremony and to show their collective love for him.
“This is about focusing on the positive and the life he has led and to show him how much everyone loves him,” said Walsh Millerick.
She affectionately refers to his supporters as Team Epic Ethan.
Walsh Millerick explained that when Epic Ethan was a small boy she attempted to take her son’s heart condition head on and the trials and tribulations that come with it by herself. Then she discovered Camp Taylor, a camp for children with heart diseases, and it became an extensive second family and vital support system.
“I don’t know why I tried to do it myself, but now we are so very blessed to have this wonderful group of people who love Ethan and who are our support system," Walsh Millerick said. "We are not in this fight alone."
At Camp Taylor, children with heart diseases are encouraged to embrace their condition and during their time there often build bonds with other campers.
One of Epic Ethan’s friends, and fellow Camp Taylor participant, Malachi Flammang, 9, traveled from Santa Cruz with his family to show support for Epic Ethan.
Flammang says he was at the retirement party to see his friend and to show him he will be thinking of him today.
Hundreds of others will also be thinking of Epic Ethan today with thoughts and prayers. If you would like to send words of support visit Epic Ethan & His Super Valves on Facebook and join Team Epic Ethan.