17’s Chief Meteorologist Alissa Carlson is in Las Vegas to compete for the title of Mrs. America, but for her, it’s about more than a crown.

The story begins in July 2014.

“I was getting ready for the morning show when I was filling in. All of a sudden, five minutes into the newscast, I threw up in the weather center,” Alissa said.

She went home and tried to treat what she thought was the flu, but she knew something wasn’t right.

“I went to the doctor and they said, ‘Have you ever thought about having a heart condition?” I said ‘No.’ I am way too young for that I am very healthy,” she said.

Healthy or not, the diagnosis came back as a leaky heart valve.

“They told me eventually it would have to be replaced, they didn’t know when. It would wear out and your would have to have replacement surgery.”

Suddenly she found a new passion for a cause she had championed for years as an advocate for the American Heart Association and chair of the Circle of Red.

Alissa and her husband Neil went on to adopt an even healthier lifestyle and to have a baby.

But when her baby Aris was 9 months old, Alissa had more chest pains and found herself back in a hospital gown for more tests.

“It comes back, that the valve has started to repair itself. The stem cells from my baby had started to heal my heart.”

“I feel like I owe it to people and God to give back and spread this story and help people realize you may have something you don’t even know you have.”

Now, as she chases her 2-year-old heart hero, Alissa is living out her heart healthy lifestyle for all to see though social media and her newfound platform as Mrs. California.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer. It isn’t cancer, it’s heart disease,” she said.

During the Mrs. America competition this weekend, she’ll share her message on the national stage.

“I will share my story with the judges and all that community service I have done over the years, and hopefully they will award me the title of Mrs. America, but if not, I know that what I already started is going to go somewhere and I want to continue that.”

Be sure to vote for Alissa through Monday, Aug. 20.