Bay of Plenty kids born and living with heart conditions got treated to a round of cricket with the New Zealand women's cricket team yesterday.
The kids and White Ferns players bonded over their differences at the Bay Oval after a charitable partnership between @Heart and New Zealand Cricket was formed about three weeks ago.
About 12 babies were born with a heart defect each week in New Zealand and raising awareness of the prevalence of the issue was an important reason for the partnership, fundraising and marketing manager Kerry McLeod said.
"One in 100 babies are born with a congenital heart defect ... it is the world's most common birth defect," she said.
"They have to live with constant check-ups, monitoring, surgeries. They can't live the same kind of active life other kids can."
Cricket was a natural link with the charity as a popular sport with "heart kids", being one of the few sports they could play, she said.
Fifteen-year-old Nakita Griffiths was born with only half a heart and had already been through four open-heart surgeries, her mother Angela said.
Nakita said she was not able to play sports for a long time without the same energy levels as other teenagers but enjoyed a short round of "non-stop-cricket" at school.
"It's so frustrating, it takes over my whole life really ... I can't play proper cricket but I can play about half a game of non-stop-cricket."
Meeting the White Ferns yesterday was exciting for Nakita, despite being "more of a rugby girl".
"I like meeting the players ... Now I can say I met the White Ferns. How often does that happen?"
Listening to the kids and their parents share their stories was an eye-opening experience for the women's team captain Suzie Bates.
"We've had a pretty long training day but to sit and listen to that was quite inspirational," she said.
"I guess sometimes we whinge about things but as a sports team it's good to be reminded we're lucky to have healthy hearts .
"We're really excited to be on board."
@Heart was an organisation dedicated to supporting the families of babies born with heart defects, but supported the child throughout her or his life.
Board member Stuart Watson had lived with a heart condition his whole life and had grown up watching his parents have no support, he said.
He worked with the charity to ensure no other family had to go through what his parents went through, he said.