A race car for the heart, from the heart

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - They say the heart is the engine of the body. But for one young racing fan, his engine wasn't working properly.

Friday, Dylan Dainger Snyder was given a car by his favorite teacher, Mr. Bart Steffen, to show his love of racing and to strengthen his heart.

“It was a couple nights here and there, a couple hours a week I’d be out in the garage and I think I finally had it done about December,” Mr. Bart said.

Dylan was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, or HLHS.
His left ventricle was too small and could not properly pump blood and oxygen through his heart. His mother, Talitha Korn, said they knew something was wrong early on.

“When he was about four days old, we realized something wasn't right, so we took him to our local emergency department,” Korn said. When we first got his diagnoses, we were told it would be a series of three surgeries and then an inevitable heart transplant. He actually went on hospice status for over four years."

Dylan, now a second grader, developed a special bond with Mr. Bart, thanks to their mutual love of racing.

“One day he came in and said, 'do you think you could build me a race car like yours,'” Mr. Bart said.

Mr. Bart worked with Dylan to strengthen his heart. Soon, the hard work started to pay off.

“In September his numbers looked great, he got his central line out,” Korn said. “He officially came off of hospice status in November.”

Mr. Bart kept his promise to Dylan, with a little help from his favorite NASCAR driver, Kevin Harvick.

“Hey Dylan, just wanted to say it was an honor meeting you last year at Chicagoland Speedway,” Harvick said in a video message to Dylan.” I got to say, your new car looks freaky fast!"

“Stewart-Haas racing then gave us permission to use their replica design that was on Kevin’s NASCAR.”

Now, thanks to Mr. Bart, Dylan has his very own race car.

"I know what he's been through and to be at school, just to be a kid," Mr. Bart said. "It's pretty special."

“In the last year his heart has shown improvement, he's come off hospice, he's gotten this amazing car from one of his favorite people ever," Korn said. "On no better day than Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day."

As for what is next for Dylan Dainger, his mother said the Daytona 500.