By Maraya Wahl
On September 21, groups of families joined in Eden Park of Cincinnati and walked a mile around Mirror Lake to raise awareness and funds to fight congenital heart disease (CHD). Many families have been personally affected by this disease, and it is a cause near and dear to their hearts. The Walk is joint effort between the Adult Congenital Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation, and it is available in nearly 30 communities around the United States.
Congenital Heart Disease is an abnormality present at birth, when the heart or blood vessels near the heart do not develop before birth. CHD may not be brought to the public’s attention as often as other diseases and defects, yet it has an effect on countless families. While some cases are more severe than others, families are impacted emotionally and financially when a child has CHD. Those who have CHD may have development delays and numerous medical needs. A more serious case of CHD was present in the Copenhaver family, a family who attended the Walk. They represented their adopted daughter Sadie Grace, who passed away just recently after surviving two months with CHD. Jessica Copenhaver, Wilmington College graduate and mother of Sadie, shared prior to the Walk, “Sadie is one loved and missed baby. I am hoping the walk in her honor will help.” Jess shares the feelings that any mother would have at such a grieving time in life, and the walk unites families together for a greater cause. Jessica says, “Not very many people are aware of the effects of CHD. There is so much research and information out there about diseases, yet CHD can affect children and even adults.” The Copenhavers have a foster daughter with a less severe form of CHD, and they hold on to the hope that there will be advances in research that can benefit to bettering the lives of those affected and their families.
Many foundations came together as sponsors for the cause, one of them being Keegan’s Spirit Foundation. Keegan lived one year before CHD took him. “It’s a personal matter for me,” explains Bruce Southers, founder of the organization and father of Keegan Southers. “Keegan was unable to have an organ donation. I appreciate people who are selfless and willing to do that for other people. The walk is important because it raises awareness and money for those things.” Many foundations, including this one, have started their own walks in their home towns.
There are several opportunities to be involved in the Congenital Heart Walk, and also to bring awareness and funds to the cause. Like on Facebook “Congenital Heart Walk Greater Cincinnati.” For more information, visit www.congenitalheartwalk.org/.