SARASOTA, Fla. — Savannah Marquez, 12, has a binder full of letters to lawmakers she’s meticulously typed and printed, then sectioned off by date.

  • Brother's condition spurred Savannah Marquez to take action
  • She wrote lawmakers about mandatory infant cardiac screenings
  • Want to spread awareness? Email

This sixth-grader has been on a quest for more than a year to make infant cardiac screenings a requirement for all newborns across the state of Florida.

Her inspiration is her 4-year-old brother Nico. Savannah says it’s a miracle that he’s here today.

"When he was born everything looked fine at first," she explained.

Just hours before Nico was set to head home with his parents, an infant cardiac screening revealed a congenital heart defect. At six days old, Nico underwent open-heart surgery to repair his pulmonary artery and aorta.

“It was a lot of crying,” Savannah recalled.” It was so scary. I don’t want other families to feel like that.”

Two years ago, Savannah created a project showcasing what her brother had been through. From there, she decided to start writing lawmakers to ask if they could help make mandatory infant cardiac screenings state law.

“I wanted to get attention from lawmakers to see if this could go forward and see if this was actually as important as my family thought it was,” she said. “Because rules can change, but laws ... they’re not so easy to change.”

State Sen. Joe Gruters filed a bill at Savannah’s request. U.S Rep. Margaret Good did the same in the House. Savannah said the bill has bipartisan support.

“I thought we would get some meetings but it has been really amazing to see how it’s taken off,” said Nicole Marquez, Savannah’s mom.

If you would like to help Savannah spread awareness on the bill you are asked to email