OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Parade of Hearts is coming to Kansas City. Artists from around the metro are designing five-foot KC hearts to be displayed and later auctioned.

Each heart has it’s own story. Including one from a Johnson County, Kansas man who survived a traumatic brain injury.

James McGinnis’ life flashed before him on the football field around seven years ago. His life since then has been a road of recovery and anything but perfect. McGinnis says he wouldn’t want it any other way and beauty can truly be found in life’s imperfections.

A split second hit changed McGinnis’ life in 2014. His father, Patrick McGinnis, was on the sidelines taking photos when his son fell to the turf. McGinnis said he looked into his son’s eyes and saw they were dilated and fixed. He knew it was serious.

“It was the third quarter and he had what’s called an acute subdural hematoma,” Patrick said.

The Olathe East High School football players says he found himself in a coma face-to-face with God. He stayed in a coma for five days, was in the ICU for 18, and then years of recovery and rehabilitation.

“When we left the ICU he said he will probably be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life,” his dad said.

What they learned is, traumatic brain injury or not, James has a lot more to do. Despite doubts and the odds he became not only an artist, but a 4.0 student at Johnson County Community College. He studied painting, ceramics, sports medicine, and public speaking.

“What a better way to spread the message to love one another with my five-foot heart,” James said.

Wednesday was a show and tell of sorts for the survivor. He unveiled the heart at JCCC to say thank you to everyone who believed he could succeed and saw him through.

“It reminds me of the way people in KC poured love, kindness, and blessings to me and my family during my recovery,” James said.

His heart is one of more than 120 headed all around the city for the Parade of Hearts.

“We sat down and worked through what he wanted. I knew from the start he wanted the I love you sign because that’s just part of his message,” Patrick said.

McGinnis’ favorite style of art is something he learned in ceramics class at JCCC. It’s called wabi-sabi. The Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection with even the smallest mistake. At the foot of McGinnis’ heart is a splatter of paint. He says a brush flew out of his hand while he was painting it. Instead of covering it up he felt it was meant to be.

“Uh, no. We’re keeping that beautiful imperfection. Wabi-sabi,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis hopes the message behind his art will remind others as long as we love another anything is possible. His dad says it’s been hard for McGinnis to see such division in the world, especially due to the pandemic, and hopes his heart reminds people a little love goes a long way.

“It’s OK to disagree and debate issues, but it’s not okay to demean or marginalize a person, and so that’s at the center of his message is just to love one another. If we do that this is a better place,” Patrick said.

Organizers haven’t decided where McGinnis’ heart will be displayed in the city just yet. It will be displayed from March through June. If you would like more information about the Parade of Hearts you can learn more about the program here.

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