Shea Homes Mini Hero: Emery Miller, age 14

by Shea Homes Arizona on April 27, 2013

Our first Shea Homes Mini Hero of 2013 is 14-year-old Emery Miller. Emery was born with a hole in his heart, rhythm issues with his heart, and a severely defective aortic valve, which had his mother, Lori, completely overwhelmed from the start. “The first three to four years were the hardest because it was just constant, there was constantly something,” said Lori. Whether it was speech therapy, dealing with feeding tubes or teaching her son a sense of normalcy, Lori said, “Whatever comes our way, we will make it through together.” And that is just what they do.

Together, Lori and Emery have endured four-open heart surgeries, the emotional and physical toll of Emery’s condition and keeping their lives as normal as possible. More recently, Emery underwent a fifth, less invasive and experimental procedure calledemery the Melody Heart Valve procedure. Emery was the first kid in Arizona to undergo this procedure, where his doctor used a catheter to replace a valve in his heart with a cow’s jugular vein. It was more than successful; Emery, his family and close friends just celebrated his one year “heart-iversary”. “It’s really an experience that I will always take with me, especially when I had a surprise party for it that all my friends came to so it was fantastic,” said Emery about his new heart and surprise celebration.

To help spread awareness for heart disease; Emery participates in a number of events, including the Phoenix Heart Walk in February, American Heart Month. He has raised over $200,000 for the American Heart Association in Phoenix and has created a yearly “bear drive” at Christmas where he takes teddy bear donations to give to every kid in the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

With his inspiring and uplifting attitude, Emery travels around the nation to speak to kids his age about staying positive when you’re forced to overcome adversity. He has been publicly speaking since age 5 here in Phoenix, Seattle and Los Angeles. “At my young age, it’s taught me how fortunate I am and kids don’t realize how fortunate they can be,” Emery said. He continues to get many requests to speak at several schools here in the Valley. Outside of Arizona, Emery spoke in Los Angeles for Lift up America, a motivational program for kids and attended a celebration for American Heart Month at the White House where he met and talked with Obama’s top aids. Emery is also a keynote speaker and advocate for organizations like The American Heart Association and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Emery and Lori Miller are truly an inspiration and a testament to perseverance.  They will soon move into their new home in Spaces at Evans Ranch, a Shea Homes Arizona community, where they said it actually “felt like home.”