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".

Conquering CHD Virginia (CCHD-VA), is proud to collaborate with Zipperstrong as the host of the fourth annual Zipperstrong 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. 

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?


CCHD VA is yet to host the first ever Zipperstrong Project Photoshoot for CHD Warriors ages ​16 and through adult. However, this is still a goal. If you know of a photographer who is interested in getting involved, please contact us.

The Teens/ Adults photoshoot will be designed to capture the story and bring CHD awareness of those living with congenital heart defects into adulthood as well as honor the bereaved families who would like to participate in memory of their teen/adult. 

What safety precautions will you be taking as a result of COVID-19?

We know this is a scary time and our heart warriors are especially vulnerable to coronavirus and other illness. Please know we cannot eliminate all risk, but we will try our best. To keep everyone as safe as possible, we have put the following process in place, in accordance with CDC guidelines:


  • For the safety of your family, our families, and all other participants, if you are feeling ill on the day of the photoshoot (any cold symptoms, fevers, or chest pain, etc.), please do not attend. We will do the same.

  • Only one parent/chaperone should attend the photo shoot with their child. Please find care for additional children younger than 9 not being photographed. This will help avoid unnecessary crowding and allow us to remain socially distant.

  • As in years past, no crafts or food will be hosted on the premise. 

  • When entering the studio, please sanitize your hands. We will have supplies on hand. 

  • All adults and older children (not being photographed) must wear a mask at all times during the shoot, and to the extent possible, children. CCHD-VA staff and photographer will be wearing masks at all times.

  • Adults and children in the studio should stay at least six feet apart from one another during the session (unless being photographed or assisting). 

  • Frequent sanitizing and disinfecting of all props and general area between sessions.

  • Only one family will be in the studio at a time. Please wait in your car until your session time. We will call/text you when it is your turn. This will help us keep to social distancing requirements and ensure the space is sanitized for your session.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at

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?

Alumni families are always welcome. However, due to COVID-19, we are only able to do 10 sessions this year. We know Zipperstrong sessions are popular. To keep things fair, we will fill those slots based on a lottery system and new families will be given preference.

How does the lottery work? How will I know if my heart warrior has been chosen?

Registration will close one week after the event is announced. The CCHD-VA team will then go through registrants and divide them into categories based on care center, new families, bereaved families, etc. Slots will be chosen at random within certain categories: at least two per center (based on registration numbers), two slots will be reserved for bereaved families (based on registration numbers). Slots will be filled by new families first, then alumni. We will aim to be regionally representative as well.


Chosen families will be notified once the lottery is complete. These families will be given a specific time slot and must confirm their attendance within two days. If they are unable to commit, we will move to the next in line. Once all time slots are full, we will notify all other registrants of their status. We hope to have all slots full and families notified by October 11.

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.


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).


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


Where is the event? When does my family need to arrive? 

The event will take place at SheRae Hunter’s photography studio in Winchester: Address: 3 South Cameron St, Winchester VA


Each session should take about 10 minutes. Please try to arrive 15 mins before your scheduled time, but remain in your car until we call/text you. (There is a free parking garage across the street). This will help us keep to social distancing requirements and ensure the space is sanitized for your session.

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.

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 The Zipperstrong Project 2020)

  • Media Coverage: Local and national media outlets in the past have covered the Zipperstrong Project. We are inviting local media outlets to attend the 2020 photo session to meet local CHD families.

  • Social Media: Conquering CHD 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 wanting to purchase additional prints directly from SheRae, or schedule a private family portrait session can contact her directly for more information:

How do I register for the Zipperstrong Project 2021 photoshoots?

The registration form can be found here.

When will the next Zipperstrong photoshoot be scheduled?

This is the only scheduled photoshoot for the Zipperstrong Project to be released in February 2021. For information about Zipperstrong 2022 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 Conquering CHD Virginia?

Conquering CHD Virginia (CCHD-VA) is an organization in Virginia run by volunteers all of whom are touched by CHD in some way. As a chapter of the national Conquering Congenital Heart Disease organization, CCHD-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, CCHD-VA works directly with patients, families, and medical professionals impacting one life at a time.

To learn more, visit

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