Updated: Dec 22, 2019
MEND A HEART FOUNDATION Clarendon Hills Hearts. Hearts. Hearts. I see hearts everywhere during this time of year – in the grocery store, at the mall, at the school, in the mail. The heart is the international symbol for love, understood by all, inspiring warm feelings and smiles. The heart is truly that vital organ we all possess that pumps glorious life through our bodies. If it does not work correctly, though, life becomes a little more complicated.
Clarendon Hills residents, Brian and Bridget O’Meara found that out when their son, Liam, was born with a congenital heart defect. Born with essentially only half his heart, Liam underwent three reconstructive heart surgeries and lives today because of the great medical minds that reconfigured his heart to function with a single ventricle. Brian and Bridget wanted to give back to this heart community that was instrumental in saving Liam’s life and were inspired to start the Mend a Heart foundation to help fund initiatives that extend and enrich the lives of children born with congenital heart defects.
According to the American Heart Association, congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting 1 out of every 100 babies in the U.S. Medical research is on-going. The foundation, through grants, assists medical researchers who have trouble receiving large government funding for their work. “Since 2007, we have paid out 31 grants totaling $820,000,” says Bridget.
“Our goal is to hit $1 million in 2019.” In addition to research funding, the foundation funds the cost of kids to attend summer camp at Camp Odayin, a medically supervised camp for heart kids. They also support cardiac high school screenings to help prevent sudden cardiac deaths of children with undetected heart defects.
For twelve years, Mend a Heart has held an annual fundraiser, Heartfest, with the last several being held in February. This year, Heartfest will be held on Saturday, February 16th at the Hyatt Lodge in OakBrook. Suggested dress is casual red attire. They would love for anyone in the community who is interested, to join them in the fun. “We are always looking for willing volunteers to join our event planning committee,” says Bridget, “and would love to find a few individuals who would be willing to chair Heartfest next year.”
For more information on Mend a Heart Foundation, attending Heartfest, volunteering for their events, or donating to their cause, please visit them at www.mendaheart.org.
Mindy’s February Giving Inspiration: Sign-up to become an organ donor. It is the ultimate gift of giving.
ABOUT THE WRITER Mindy Kyle is the owner of Be Inspired Studios and is passionate about helping people discover what brings them joy and to live a full, healthy and happy life. She has her Masters in Fine Arts degree in creative writing from DePaul University and lives in Naperville with her husband, three children and the cutest dog in the land.