Walk held at Alexandria City Park makes lasting imprint for children with heart defectsEvery heart leaves a lasting imprint. Including a young child’s.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Every heart leaves a lasting imprint.
Including a young child’s.
Those participating in the second annual Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Walk in Alexandria Saturday morning had that thought running through their minds.
Their goal: Raise funds and awareness about the number-one birth defect in the U.S., affecting one out of every 100 babies born.
About 280 people participated in the two-mile walk. They raised more than $13,000, surpassing organizers’ goal of $10,000.
“That was fantastic,” said Lindsey Buttweiler, Alexandria regional coordinator for Lasting Imprint, the non-profit organization that organized the event. “We’re very excited with what happened this year and are already planning for next year.”
The walkers had plenty of inspiration.
Angela Heidelberger, Lasting Imprint executive director, told the group about Allison Gobeli, who died on August 17 from a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which also took the life of her own daughter, Hazel.
Allison has a grandmother who lives in Alexandria and a group of people working for Dental Health Associates in Alexandria donated $100 to Lasting Imprint in Allison’s memory.
“There is nothing that can take away the pain you feel after losing a child,” Heidelberger said. “But I think there is one thing I can help with. I think the biggest fear we have as parents is that our children will be forgotten, and I can assure you that the people involved in this organization will not forget Allison’s story. We share our children’s memories, honor them and continue fighting for them.”
The featured child for this year’s walk, Riese Kluver, Buttweiler’s daughter, is another example of that, Heidelberger said. The 8-year-old girl is also battling Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and has been through six open-heart surgeries and many other procedures. According to doctors, Riese’s heart works like that of an 80-year-old person so she will eventually need a heart transplant, Heidelberger said.
“Those of us that know her can’t help but be inspired,” Heidelberger said. “Not just by what she’s been through, but by the beautiful smile that is always on her face. And we also know, from some tough times that have happened this year to her, that every single day is a precious gift.”
On the path, walkers strolled past posters made by parents of other local children affected by CHD. White balloons were attached to posters of children who have died.
Parents released the balloons as they walked.