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Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Zipperstrong Project?

Through The Zipperstrong Project, Winchester Photographer SheRae Hunter helps raise awareness of Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). Her powerful images capture the strength and vitality of CHD children, while helping families see just how proud their children are to simply be themselves, scars and all.


“I can try to see these children how their parents see them — fragile and scarred, but brave and mighty. Broken, but perfect,” Hunter wrote on her website. “This project is my humble and sincere attempt not only to understand the world of these families and children, but to give you a glimpse into their world, that you might seek to understand as well.”  


Hunter encourages families to share the images and the stories of those impacted by congenital heart disease and keep the conversation going with "#zipperstrong".


This year, the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association (PCHA-VA), is proud to collaborate with Zipperstrong as the host of the third annual Zipperstrong Photoshoot and luncheon. This year we are excited to host the first ever Teen/Adult photoshoot.

Who can participate?


The Zipperstrong Children's Photoshoot is designed to feature CHD children ages infant to 15-years-old, including CHD survivors and those carried in the hearts of their loved ones.  The Teens/ Adults photoshoot is for those living with congenital heart defects and bereaved families who would like to participate in memory of their teen/adult. 

CHD families and patients across Virginia (and nearby regions) are invited register to attend this complimentary Zipperstrong portrait session.

I’m an adult with CHD, can I participate in Zipperstrong?


In January of 2019 we are planing to host the first ever Zipperstrong Project Photoshoot for CHD Warriors ages 16 and through adult! Registration information is here: The Zipperstrong Project - Teens & Adults

What if my child/I do not have a “zipper” scar?


No problem! We know not all heart warriors have “zipper” scars running down their chests. Children, teens and adults whose CHD has not required surgical intervention are all part of the CHD story and are encouraged to participate to help create a full picture of CHD for the awareness campaign.

My family has participated in Zipperstrong in the past, can we partake in this photo session?


The individual photo sessions will be scheduled on a first-come-first-served, and preference will be given to new families. Zipperstrong veterans are invited to attend a “Zipperstrong Luncheon” hosted during the CHD Children's photoshoot (time TBA) to catch up with old Zipperstrong friends, meet new Zipperstrong families, and learn about the collaboration with the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association of Virginia. 

What does my child/do I need to wear for the photo session?


Children through age 15:
Please dress your child in blue jeans.


If your child is three or younger, or if you have a boy, Zipperstrong images will be taken without a shirt to show off “zippers.”


If your child is a girl over three years old, she will need to have a solid black one piece swimsuit, gymnastics leotard, or tight-fitting black spaghetti strap or scoop neck top (no graphics or designs, just solid black) to be able to see a good amount of her zipper to be able to use the image for the project.



Please wear a button up shirt in a neutral solid color (gray, brown, hunter green, navy, deep red - muted colors, not bright.) Please no loud neon or bright colors like pink or royal blue/royal purple or white or black shirts.



Please wear minimal makeup, off the shoulder shirt or 'spaghetti' strap type shirt in a neutral solid color  (gray, brown, hunter green, navy, deep red - muted colors, not bright.) Please no loud neon or bright colors like pink or royal blue/royal purple or white or black shirts.


Bereaved families: Please follow the same clothing guidelines as above.


When does my family need to arrive? 


Children's Photoshoot:

The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Children’s Museum is located at 19 W. Cork Street Winchester, VA. Each session should take about 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve signed up for a morning session, please plan to arrive no later than 12:00 PM. If you signed up for an afternoon session, please plan to arrive no later than 2:15 PM. All families will receive admission to the museum, so feel free to play while you wait for your session to start, or afterwards!


All families are welcome to join us for a Zipperstrong Luncheon (time TBA) PM, hosted by PCHA VA. We encourage you to drop by to meet fellow Zipperstrong families! 

Teen/Adult Photoshoot
Arrive anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

SheRae's studio is located in Winchester, VA. (address TBA)


If my CHD Warrior has passed away, can I still participate in Zipperstrong?


Yes, absolutely.

Pregnancy - age 15: Please bring a favorite color or black and white 8x10 portrait of your heart warrior (or a pregnancy portrait if your loss was early). Zipperstrong will provide the picture frame. Siblings, parents' hands, or another child of your choosing can be in the frame with the 8x10 photograph. Please have the person holding the photo wear a plain black shirt (no graphics) and jeans.

Ages 16 - Adult: Please bring an 8x10 portrait of your heart warrior and something belonging to the him/her (stuffed toy, trophy, or something else that was important to them then, or important to the family now). 

Where will my child’s image be used?


Zipperstrong’s goal first and foremost is to spread CHD Awareness. Zipperstrong, in partnership with the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association of Virginia plans to do this in a few ways:

  • Dedicated Zipperstrong Project web page (View Zipperstrong 2018)

  • Media Coverage: Local and national media outlets in the past have covered the Zipperstrong Project. We are inviting local media outlets to attend the 2019 photo session to meet local CHD families.

  • Social Media: The Pediatric Congenital Heart Association of Virginia has a vibrant online network where imagery, along with personal stories, may be shared social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Look for these posts all throughout February, Heart Awareness Month!

  • Special Events: In the past, Zipperstrong portraits have been featured at the Hope Marietta Foundation’s Casino Night.

Participants must sign a photo release form. The form will be e-mailed to registered families before the event to be filled out and brought to the photo session. OR you may download and e-mail the form ahead of time (PDF file coming soon.)

Will I receive any prints?

Families will receive two complementary 5 x 7 prints.

Families interested in hiring SheRae for a private family portrait session can contact her directly for more information about extra prints, other photo packages, rates, and availability:

How do I register for the Zipperstrong Project 2019 photoshoots and/or luncheon?

The Children's photoshoot and luncheon registration form can be found here.

The Teen/Adult photoshoot registration form can be found here.

When will the next Zipperstrong photoshoot be scheduled?

These are the only schedules photoshoots for the Zipperstrong Project to be released in February 2019. For information about Zipperstrong 2020 or to be added to the Zipperstrong contact list, please e-mail

Families interested in hiring SheRae for a private family portrait session can contact her directly for more information about photo packages, rates, and availability:


What is the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association of Virginia?

The Pediatric Congenital Heart Association of Virginia (PCHA-VA) is a new organization in Virginia run by volunteers all of whom are touched by CHD in some way. As a chapter of the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association, PCHA-VA’s mission is to improve the lives of those with congenital heart disease and their families through direct support and education - meeting families where they are. Through social and educational events that connect CHD families, peer-to-peer support, care packages (“Conquering CHD Kits”), and distributing educational materials, PCHA-VA works directly with patients, families, and medical professionals impacting one life at a time.

PCHA-VA’s parent organization, the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association’s mission is to “Conquer Congenital Heart Disease.” PCHA accomplishes this through collaboration with patients, parents, providers, and partner organizations in order to effectively advocate for improved quality and outcomes through CHD education, research, and awareness.


To learn more, visit

If you have any questions that were not addressed here, please e-mail

Zipperstrong 2019 Sponsors

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