From an Acorn the Mighty Oak Grows


Joe McCourt
Mon, January 6, 2022, 1:48 PM


Each year, the Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation hosts a golf tournament to raise funds for families who are dealing with the unthinkable – the news that their child has a congenital heart defect. I was honored to attend on behalf of Uniti to support this cause and spend time with other professionals committed to doing good.

The number of families that face this situation is more than you might think. In the U.S., nearly 1 in 100 babies is born with a heart defect each year. In fact, congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. For families, it can be a devastating experience. Watching your child fight a potentially life-threatening illness is unimaginable, and the cost of care can take an immense toll on a family’s financial wellbeing.

But the Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation is there to support families in their time of need.

The foundation was established in 2011 by Becky and Greg Ortyl, members of our own Uniti family, in honor of their son, Oakes. Through his brief but beautiful life and his legacy, Oakes made and continues to make an immeasurable impact. His story, and the work of the foundation created in his name, has provided care for countless families and inspired countless people to make a difference – including our team at Uniti.

The Ortyls, and the entire Mighty Oakes team, understand that every family with a child suffering is in a unique situation. They need a support infrastructure they can lean on for immediate assistance tailored to their unique needs so they can focus on what matters most – helping their child get well.

Mighty Oakes helps families navigate the financial burden of a health crisis by providing gas cards to assist with travel, assisting with utilities or mortgage expenses, paying for hotel rooms, assisting with car repairs, and even helping families relocate to access the healthcare they need.

And just as importantly, they stand beside families in the midst of the fight to offer their support, love and care. Mighty Oakes delivers meals and care packages to exhausted parents, pampers heart moms who’ve spent hours and days at their child’s bedside, and creates photoshoots and keepsakes to comfort families facing devastating loss and grief.

Watching our team come together again this year to support such an important and noble cause with so much compassion makes me incredibly proud and grateful to be a part of Uniti. My wife Kathy and I know first-hand about this, as we have a daughter who has undergone multiple surgeries for her congenital heart defect. I wish we’d had resources as wonderful as Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation.

This year, a sold-out crowd of 148 golfers hit the links at Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club in St. Petersburg, Florida, in support of the foundation. The tournament was made possible by 26 sponsors and featured prizes including a $100k hole-in-one cash prize and top tech.

Instead of trophies, each winner received a cash prize and signature red wooden heart. The heart, a perpetual fundraiser for Mighty Oakes, means something different to everyone, but at their core they represent love. People often hang them on trees or on the wall of their home office.

After the awards ceremony, Becky Ortyl delivered a powerful speech and announced that this year’s tournament raised $206,000 that will provide the support families need to keep fighting in the coming year.

Seeing what the Uniti and Mighty Oakes teams accomplished together through this year’s tournament was a reminder that when we build infrastructure rooted in our values and with the unique needs of our communities at the forefront, there are few challenges we can’t solve. Because compassion and connection are incredibly important not just to the customer experience but to the human experience.

The tournament – and the opportunity to support the foundation as a whole – gives me a sense of appreciation and reminds me of our responsibility to each other and our communities. I’m a huge supporter, not just because it’s a golf tournament, but because of what they do. Mighty Oakes brings to bear a tremendous outpouring of support for the families and communities they serve through their commitment, discipline, compassion and generosity.

Even though Oakes Ortyl couldn’t make it through his ordeal, his impact was an acorn that was planted and now helps to grow new trees that will bear fruit for more families in need.

Support, relief, hope – these are the goals of the Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation. And they are goals we share here at Uniti. We bring the same drive and focus to our charitable efforts in our communities that we do to building infrastructure for our networks.

Mighty Oakes is finishing the year focusing on their current families, but donations are always accepted. For more information on how to contribute to this amazing organization that’s near and dear to us at Uniti, visit mightyoakes.org.