Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation

Online fundraiser raises more than $6,000 for HEARTest Yard in support of TJ Olsen

An online fundraiser is selling shirts in support of Greg Olsen’s youngest son, TJ, as he waits for a new heart.

Olsen, the former Panthers tight end, revealed last month that TJ would likely need a new heart soon. He was recently placed on a heart transplant list.

TJ Olsen was born with a congenital heart defect in 2012. He has had three open-heart surgeries and has lived with a modified heart for the past eight years.

But his heart is reaching its end, Olsen said on social media last month.

Karin Giglio and her neighbor, Vanessa Smitz, who is a family friend of the Olsens, started the fundraiser this week.

“We want TJ to know all the teams are supporting him,” Giglio said in a phone interview. “To show TJ everyone is thinking of him and pulling for him.”

Shirt prices range from $15 to $30. The fundraiser has been shared by the Carolina Panthers and Greg Olsen on social media. Since then, they have raised more than $6,000 so far, Giglio said.

All proceeds from the shirt sales go to the HEARTest Yard foundation.

In 2013, the Olsens established the HEARTest Yard to help children born with congenital heart issues similar to TJ’s. The foundation has donated money to the Levine Children’s Hospital so that pediatric heart patients can be provided home care and additional therapy once they are discharged from the hospital.

Many of Olsen’s former teammates have been supportive of the family.

“Our hearts go out to the family, especially to TJ,” former Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said last week. “Him being the kid, he’s been dealing with his entire life. He’s one of the strongest kids that we all know, and he’s gonna continue to fight. We know that he’s going to pull through this.”

Former Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly said the same.

“TJ is a powerful guy, Greg and Kara, the whole family is strong, same as TJ,” he said. “He’s going to pull through, but I think the more we can think about it, the more we can think about TJ and that Olsen family, having our thoughts and prayers, I think that’s just probably the best thing everybody can do is something short, sweet and easy. I think that goes a long way.”