hometown heroes

Get to know RaeRae of Light director Amy Norris

Nonprofit is named Hometown Hero

Posted 9/13/23

Reagan Norris was born May 2, 2019 and diagnosed with a cleft lip and a critical Congenital Heart Defect known as right-dominant Unbalanced Atrioventricular Canal defect.

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hometown heroes

Get to know RaeRae of Light director Amy Norris

Nonprofit is named Hometown Hero


Reagan Norris was born May 2, 2019 and diagnosed with a cleft lip and a critical Congenital Heart Defect known as right-dominant Unbalanced Atrioventricular Canal defect.

She tragically passed away Nov. 22, 2019.

In the wake of Reagan’s death, the Norris family created RaeRae of Light to bring attention to CHDs, and the community responded in a grand effort. The mission of the nonprofit is to create awareness and support families affected by Congenital Heart Defects.

Already, since its inception in May 2020, tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to the nonprofit which goes directly to research and to help families with children who have CHD.

Get to know RaeRae of Light director Amy Norris.

What I like most about living/working in Peoria: I love all the hiking trails that are close to home. There are great churches, shopping, the sports programs my kids are a part of are close to home, the amazing community, and I support the direction the city is moving in.
Personal background highlights: I am a native, born and raised in the Phoenix area. I am a former competitive gymnast. I regularly volunteer for my church. I married my high school sweetheart 18 years ago and we have four beautiful children.

Professional background highlights: I graduated from ASU with a BS in Marketing. I earned my Master’s in Banking from University of Washington’s Pacific Coast Banking School which is a graduate level banking and executive leadership program. I have been working in senior level leadership roles for a large financial institution for the past 22 years.

In 2020, my husband and I founded the nonprofit RaeRae of Light (raeraeoflight.org) to honor our daughter Reagan, and bring awareness to Congental Heart Disorder. I currently hold the executive director position for RaeRae of Light.

Some facts about CHD that may help people understand the severity of this diagnosis.

• 1 in 100 babies are born with a CHD.

• Most common birth defect and cause of infant death.

• There is no cure, and most causes are unknown.

• Research is grossly underfunded relative to the prevalence of the disease.

In 2022, we championed the new Arizona CHD specialty license plate where proceeds go directly to Phoenix Children’s Center for Heart Care to fund research. In the 10 months since the launch of the license plate, it has generated more than $20,000 for CHD research. The design of the license plate holds much personal significance to our precious baby. Most notable is the heartbeat running across the bottom of the plate is an actual snippet of Reagan’s EKG.

Embedded in the two-colored petals on the heart are the names of Reagan and Sophie, another precious baby recently lost due to these horrific CHD’s. At RaeRae of Light, we typically hold two to three local fundraising events annually and welcome community involvement.

I have recently become a multi-unit franchise owner of the Blo Blow Dry Bar (blomedry.com/scottsdale-az), a salon focused on blow drying hair, along with makeup and hair extension services. I currently own the North Scottsdale location with two new locations scheduled to open by the end of 2023. The first location will be at 67th Avenue and Pinnacle Peak Rd, and the other location is in the Dove Valley area near I-17 and Dove Valley Road. The third location scheduled for 2024 will be in Verrado. I plan to become very involved in the community from the business owner perspective and engage with other business owners to support local nonprofits. Giving back is a top priority of mine.

What does it mean to be a Peoria resident/worker?: I’ve lived in other parts of the Valley, but Peoria living has been the best! I take pride in the community and what it stands for. I’m so proud of where the community is going. I’m thankful for the local businesses and amenities, wonderful neighborhoods and great neighbors!

What do you think you bring to the local community that makes it better?: Being involved with the youth in my church has been so rewarding and satisfying. I feel my leadership and mentorship skills will make a positive impact in their lives.

I’m currently working with 7-8th grade girls, and being that is such a vulnerable age, my hope is that I am a positive influence on them

With RaeRae of Light, educating the community about congenital heart defects and encouraging drivers to put the CHD plate on their cars is such a small way to make a big impact to those affected by CHD. We have supported many families and patients in their journey with this awful defect and most people don’t understand how it affects the families.

Often times, one parent must quit their job in order to care for their child which puts a huge financial burden on families already dealing with the devastating diagnoses. Supporting these families, whether they may be in our local community or not, is a key part of our mission.

What would you tell people about why it’s important to make a difference?: It’s all about having a passion and then getting your voice heard. It may not always be easy, but it does create positive change. Whether in my personal life, my professional life, my business life, or my nonprofit life, I always strive to lead by example so that my actions make an impact on the world around me. Spreading kindness, choosing to be kind, and showing compassion for others will have a positive effect on people you interact with every day.

Changes I’d like to see in this area: I would love to see more police and firefighters as they are critical to our public safety. Better roadwork planning and execution to accommodate our growing city is a must, as well as focusing on plans for our future water supply needs. More biking trails would be a great addition, too!

My family (what have they taught you): It’s all about family. Our family has always been extremely close. From my immediate family to our large extended family, we live life together. During the most difficult time in our lives with our beautiful Reagan, our family was by our side every step of the way supporting us in whatever we needed. Family teaches you how to love and to be loved, it teaches you patience, to celebrate each other and although it sounds cliché, with family you never take life for granted. Along with family, our faith keeps us strong.

My interests and hobbies: I love to hike — we have nicknamed Thunderbird Conservation Park at 67th Avenue and Patrick Lane — our “RaeRae Mountain” as we hold our annual “Hike for Hearts” there every December.

Taking classes at our local gym is a favorite hobby also. Family vacations usually involve the beach and Disney, which we always look forward to. I love to watch my kids’ sports activities between my boys’ lacrosse, football and baseball, and my daughter’s cheerleading. Trying different restaurants is always fun and I love all the new ones coming to Peoria! Of course, getting my hair styled is something I love to do, which is why I became a franchise owner of the Blo Blow Dry Bar!

The trait(s) I admire in others: I admire others with servant hearts, caring and compassionate people, kind people — people who have persevered and have overcome hardship.

People who inspired me (and how): First, Jesus, who gave his life for me so I could have eternal life. My husband who is beside me every step of the way. My children, who are the greatest gift from God. My mom, who I know will always be there for me no matter what. Everyone in my inner circle make me want to be a better person, and the world a better place.

My guiding philosophy: Hard work and perseverance. Loyalty, courage, and respect for all human beings especially the vulnerable people. Leave this world a better place. Proverbs 3:6 – In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

My advice to today’s youth: Have strong faith and appreciate your family. Have goals, have dreams, don’t be afraid to make mistakes as those are valuable lessons. There is no substitute for hard work. Live reasonably, be generous, be kind. Be trustworthy, sincere and unique.

Name a couple future goals: I want to grow RaeRae of Light to $1 million in revenue to fund research and continue to help families. Securing grants and partnering with businesses that support our mission is a main goal. I would love to see 100,000 CHD license plates on the road within the next five years.

My goal is to have two out my three new builds for the Blo Blow Dry Bar complete by the end of 2023.