Sarasota boy with a new heart spreads joy to hospital, community that saved him

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TJ Resch is one tough kid. He is only 11 years old and has had more medical issues than most people deal with in a lifetime. 

TJ was born with a congenital heart defect and got a heart transplant at just three weeks old. 

“We learned early on that every day is truly a gift. We celebrate everything and we enjoy every moment every day,” said TJ’s mom Robin.

TJ’s family calls him a medical miracle and they show their gratitude by giving back to the hospital that helped save his life. He’s currently working on the 12th annual “From The Heart” donation drive for John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. 

“We do donation drives for them. We collect slippers, teddy bears and pajamas for kids who have to stay there,” TJ explained to FOX 13.

His good deeds don’t end there. In 2016, TJ and his family created “Joyful Open-Hearted Youth,” or JOY. The group’s goal: do good deeds throughout the community.

“We taught the boys early on that God wants us to love thy neighbor, and what better way to do it then to try and take care of them and do what we can?” said Robin. 

They visit nursing home patients, give hand-made felt hearts to veterans and host clean-ups across Tampa Bay.

TJ, his brother Donnie and about a dozen other JOY members joined in on a recent clean-up at Nathan Benderson Park. 

“They do have great hearts and so many of these kids out here do,” Robin said. “I mean it's really wonderful to see the love. I love the love. I love to say that.”

If you ask TJ why he does it, his response is simple but sweet. 

“We do it so we can help people,” he answered. “It feels good.”

An answer that makes his mom so proud. 

“Every time we go out and do something it touches someone,” she said, “and we hope that person goes on and does something for someone else, like a domino effect.”