Seventeen-year-old Xzaviar Aune spent his first few years in and out of the hospital, as doctors treated a host of heart problems: newborn persistent pulmonary hypertension, atrial septal defect and supraventricular tachycardia. "Big words for such a little guy," Xzaviar wrote in a recent blog post on SneakyPeteMafia.com, a site devoted to all things billiards, pool and snooker. (We'll come back to that.) Shortly after his third birthday, Xzaviar got off the monitors and medications. His parents brought him home for good, so "my life could begin," he writes. And it was an active life that included boxing, wrestling and football.
But in 2012, "all of these things that I enjoyed doing came to a stop," he says, and Xzaviar found himself back in the hospital. The tachycardia had returned, and as the Winona Daily News reports, he was referred to Mayo Clinic for a "relatively simple procedure" called cardiac ablation. The 20-minute procedure stretched to four hours, however, after doctors "discovered Xzaviar had a very rare condition" – both typical and atypical atrioventricular nodal re-entry tachycardia. Later that year, he was also diagnosed with autonomic dysfunction, a condition that caused his blood pressure to plummet. But thanks to the "great doctors at Mayo," Xzaviar says, his symptoms were soon under control.
A year after his surgery, while reflecting on "everything that I had been through" and "all the support I have had," Xzaviar decided he "wanted to give back." He chose to do so by helping other kids facing hospitalization. After a sewing lesson from his mother, Tabetha Fischer, he began making small blankets and pillowcases that parents can "sleep with or hold, then give to their child," so that the child will have "the scent of their parent … to bring them comfort." He'd been comforted many times by a blanket that "held the smell of his house," he says. Tabetha tells us that when Xzaviar approached her with the idea of making what he calls Zavy's Lovies, she was near tears "thinking that this child has not only a mended heart, but a golden heart."
So far, Xzaviar has created around 300 Zavy's Lovies, which have been donated to Mayo Clinic's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, Minnesota, and the Children's Miracle Network in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Xzaviar also sells his wares, and he donates a portion of the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House and other charities. He says he will "always be making Zavy's Lovies" and dreams of seeing them "in every newborn nursery or NICU in the United States" (He's off to a good start.)
But Zavy's Lovies aren't his only passion. He's also a rising star as a pool player, something he picked up after his last round of heart surgeries made him reconsider contact sports. He recently placed second in Wisconsin's Junior State 9-Ball Championship and in August will compete at the Junior National 9-Ball Championships. He hopes to become a professional pool player and "teach pool to kids of all ages."
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