AVON, Ohio — The Balmert's have always tackled life's challenges with a positive attitude. But, they're also human.
"This has just been nothing but a roller coaster, but you know, we go on, we buckle up and we go for the ride, and we just try to make do with what we what we can," Lindsay Balmert told us.
When we first met 2-year-old Ryann in 2019, she was facing her biggest surgery yet for a congenital heart defect.
"Ryann has corrected transposition of the great arteries. That means, her bottom chambers, her left and her right, are kind of flip flopped," Lindsay told back in 2019.
Parents Lindsay and Chris, steadily by Ryann's side, staying upbeat through their growing social media following for "Team Balmert."
Ryann underwent another heart surgery back in December 2019.
"This will be the fourth time she's being put under. And that's a lot for a little two and a half year old body to be put through," Lindsay told us at the time.
Things were pretty steady, until a COVID-19 scare last spring.
"When the pandemic hit, it was the beginning of March we were actually in Washington D.C. We were advocating on her behalf, and her heart warrior friends on their behalf, for extra funding for congenital heart defect research," Lindsay explained. "We came home and she started getting sick, so we were like, 'Oh no, did we bring this home?' We got real paranoid."
Thankfully, it was just a simple ear infection. But, it revealed something else: How terrifying the pandemic can be for parents of children who have already gone through so much.
"It was just a crazy ride. Then, having both of them at home together, only one of us would go out at a time," Lindsay said.
Other challenges would follow. Chris had back surgery, and then furloughed from his job.
"You know, this journey has been a lot of ups and downs, and it has been a kind of a one step forward, two steps back, kind of deal. So, we're like, okay great, what else is on our plate? What else do we have to take on so we are ready to battle it," Chris told us.
But thing is, the Balmert's are masters in finding the silver lining in life.
"It let us focus on Team Balmert and growing. We were able to grow it over a million followers on Facebook, so I think it was a blessing in disguise," Chris said.
You heard that right: Team Balmert hit the 1-million milestone. Now, more than ever, followers are feeling connected to the Avon family in such an unprecedented time.
Follow Team Balmert on Facebook, HERE.
"It's a crazy accomplishment. I mean, something that we once thought was far-fetched, now we have a whole community of people from all over the world that are checking in with us every day. It's cool," Chris said.
Their hope is the social media growth will raise more awareness for their heart community. Also, after quarantining together, they have a polished appreciation for each other. After all, they've overcome so much.
"So we're learning new things with this pandemic every single day. So the more money that we can generate for heart defect research, the more that they can do," Lindsay said.
"I feel like we just have a new appreciation for our family. I felt like us being home for the past what 10 months has kind of made you realize what's truly important," Chris said.