max and alex horland

Introducing Temple Aliyah’s Mitzvah Day Local Heroes:  Max and Alex Horland, Founders of Aiding Hearts

Max and Alex will be our introductory speakers at the Mitzvah Day Fair on November 6 at 10am. Please come and be inspired in person!

My family has been a member of Temple Aliyah since 1990. It all started with my older sister, Erin. She’s now 25 but started in Mommy and Me classes and continued on to preschool, religious school, and had her Bat Mitzvah at Temple Aliyah.  My twin brother, Alex, and I followed an identical path with many educational and fun hours at the Temple. In the past few years, we’ve also been Child Care Supervisors during Shabbat services – it was almost like watching my younger self! All three of us – Erin, Alex, and myself have created many lasting memories from our days spent at the Temple.

Horland FamilyMy mother Ivee has also been working at Temple Aliyah since 2012, and Rabbi Vogel has had an integral part of our affiliation. Temple Aliyah has been part of our lives for many years and will continue to be.  Besides working at the Temple on Saturdays, I was also heavily involved in regular high school activities. I was part of the tennis team, mock trial, and all of the honors societies offered, always trying to get involved. Unfortunately, I had to cut down on my activity because of a horrible incident.

When I was 16, I was playing tennis with a friend one day when I suddenly collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital. The next day I had to undergo heart surgery to implant an internal defibrillator and was diagnosed with a very rare life-threatening heart disease called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD).

Have you ever heard of ARVD? Probably not… Most people know nothing of this disease including my family before this happened. It’s one of the most under-researched heart diseases in the world and there’s only a few specialists across the globe who are dedicated to researching it.

Through countless hours of research, connecting with patients and speaking with doctors, we have a clearer picture of it. ARVD is a congenital heart disease that depletes heart function, causing upwards of 30% of sudden cardiac arrest in young adults. 

Many people with this disease suffer depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often, the depression arises from not being able to participate in sports that used to consume their lives; exercise accelerates the depletion of the heart muscle and creates a constant feeling of fatigue. Alongside, thousands of daily palpitations further that fatigue. The PTSD comes from the overbearing fear that their defibrillators will fire, which throws them down to their feet.

When I was diagnosed with ARVD, my friends, family, and community were all there to support me. The Temple was so supportive, caring, and thoughtful. Hazzan Mimi even came to the hospital, played her guitar and sang with my family, and I will never be able to thank her enough for helping me get through tough times.

Not only was the Temple there for me at the hospital, but the Community of Caring was just as supportive when I got back home. I will never forget the lasagna deliveries that I would get for the three weeks post surgery. You may be thinking, “Lasagna? You got excited over lasagna?”, but this was literally the most amazing lasagna I have ever had, and the fact that someone cared enough to go out of their way to bring it to me meant the world.

Because ARVD is genetic, my family was tested, and my twin brother Alex was also diagnosed with the disease last year. However, it took over a year to diagnose him because of the deficient knowledge of ARVD in the medical community.

During high school, we decided to start a school club to begin our fundraising efforts and combat the reality that ARVD is incurable and that education in the medical community of the disease is deplorable. With the help of a few friends, we started Hearts to Hearts to raise funds for research, education, and prevention of sudden cardiac arrest. 

After about a dozen bake sales, including one where we sold 300 cupcakes, we decided to expand our organization. Unfortunately, the name Hearts to Hearts was taken, so we rebranded and became Aiding Hearts. In 2015, Aiding Hearts became an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization, after over 8 months of filing papers with our very generous family friend, Dan, who happens to be a lawyer.

We’re now 19 – I’m at Stanford and Alex is at UC Santa Barbara. With the help of six friends, we are trying to make a stand against sudden cardiac arrest, planning awareness campaigns, educational seminars, and research studies.  Our other co-founders are at universities across California and are bringing Aiding Hearts to their campuses as well.

In an effort to fundraise at a larger scale, we hosted our first annual charity night on August 5, 2016.  The event included poker, bingo, a silent auction, raffle prizes and hor d’oeurves and was a major success!  Aiding Hearts raised over $10,000 which was double what we expected through tickets and donations!   See below for photos from the event.

When our funds are sufficient enough, we will be able to finalize research projects, such as a long-term study tracking ARVD. Sometime this year, we even plan on hosting educational seminars in Los Angeles and San Francisco to teach people how to properly manage and detect the disease as it is often found too late when a patient unfortunately suffers sudden cardiac arrest.  Therefore, early detection could save many lives. We are wholeheartedly devoted to this cause as Aiding Hearts is one of the only organizations fighting against ARVD. 

Volunteer work and donations are greatly appreciated to help keep our organization running.   We are always looking for more people to help our organization grow. We believe that we can make a difference and that is what we strive for every day.

You can learn more about our organization at www.aidinghearts.net or contact us at aidingheartsagoura@gmail.com.

All the Best,

max signature


Max Horland


Charity Event August 5, 2016

Photographer: Harper Lyon



Above are some of the wonderful volunteers and management team that helped host the Aiding Hearts Charity Night. Their dedication to ARVD/C made the event a huge success.
Left to right top row: Artem Gareys, Alex Horland, Yaniv Tismansky, Max Horland, Omeed Soltanalipour, Sean Medin, Brian Gaul
Left to right bottom row: Erin Horland, Nicole Menges, Otto Jursch, Rohan Dod


Alex Horland, Max Horland, and Yaniv Tismansky (checking people in)


Alex Horland, Max Horland giving an award for “Man of the Year” to their doctor, Tim L. Degner, MD
Chief, Department of Pediatrics
Pediatric Cardiology
Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center