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Boy who received new heart ready to encourage others at annual walk

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Walk for Awareness of CHDs • Feb. 8 • Owenton First Baptist Life Center

By John Whitlock

Cassie Landrum didn’t need to ask if her son Luke was feeling better after undergoing a heart transplant.
She could just see it.
“We came in and he wasn’t even awake yet but you could tell. His color was great. He was breathing better,” Cassie Landrum said. “It was just a miracle. “We knew right then it was a success.”
For the Landrum family, the September surgery at a University of Cincinnati hospital was the culmination of years of fears, tears and prayer.
The open-heart surgery and transplant was something of a last resort for the Landrum family.
“It’s something we saw it coming for a few years,” Cassie Landrum said. “There was nothing else to be done.”
Although complications can crop up at anytime, the transplant was successful, Cassie Landrum said.
“He can run and play like he never has before,” Cassie Landrum said. “He wants to play karate and soccer - all these things that he could never do before. It’s amazing.”
On Feb. 8, the Landrum family will celebrate Luke’s fortune at the Ninth Annual Walk for Awareness of CHDs at the Owenton First Baptist Church Family Life Center. The events will begin at 11 a.m. and continue until 4:30 p.m.
The event raises money and awareness for children with heart defects and serves as a support network for kids and families facing one of life’s most difficult challenges.
“Luke looks forward to this every year,” Cassie Landrum said. “It’s a chance for him to see his friends and talk to other kids going through the same thing he is.”
Cassie Landrum said the event is a great source of strength for families.
“Everyone gets to know each other. It gives you other people to lean on when times are hard,” Cassie Landrum said. “We get to know each other on Facebook but it’s good to see each other face to face.”
Although the Landrum family has good news in their fight against childhood heart defects, they will continue to attend the annual walk in hope of encouraging others who are facing deadly prospects.
“We are still a long way from normal. We are on a whole new journey and we have a whole new set of issues,” Landrum said. “But (Cassie’s husband and Luke’s father) Josh and I want to reach out to other people and encourage them and be there for them. The walk is a great way to do that.
If you would like more information on the Walk for CHD Awareness, make a donation, sell hearts in your store or to form a fund-raising team, contact Katie Columbia at 514-1305, Meg Fitzgerald at 859-620-0289 or Kenda Franks at 502-316-3024.
The Owen County Lower and Upper Schools, along with the Bowling Middle School, will be participating in the “Change for CHDs” fund drive again this year from Feb. 3 through 14. Students from these schools will be asked to bring in their loose change during the drive. There will be a class from each school that will win a pizza party.
At this year’s walk, there will be a silent auction with donated items from local businesses and individuals, along with several tickets to Kentucky parks, Newport Aquarium and other entertainment venues.
The major ticket item this year is round trip tickets for two to anywhere in the United States via Southwest Airlines.  You do not have to be at the walk at the end of the auction to win.  The auction will begin at 11 a.m.  and end at 4:30 p..m with winners announced shortly after.
Vendors will also be set-up donating a portion of their proceeds to the walk.  The vendors include Mary Kay, Thirty-One, Celebrating Home, Purse Heaven, Pampered Chef, Custom Designs, Scentsy, Classy Hair Bowtique, Gold Canyon - Candles for Kids, Baskets by Kimberly, Grace Adele Purses and Jewelry, Initial Outfitters and All Wound Up.
J Kathryn Photography will also be there to take team pictures and will be bringing her photo booth to be used during the walk.
The walk is open to the public. You do not have to be on a team to come and enjoy the entertainment and food and help us raise awareness of congenital heart defects.
The walk is sponsored by God’s Special Little Hearts and the Owen County Extension Homemakers and benefits God’s Special Little Hearts, a local non-profit organization set up to help families that are affected by CHD’s.
God’s Special Little Hearts sends out care packages to families who have a child in the hospital recovering from open-heart surgery or other heart-related illness.
They also help those families with fuel costs that they incur while driving to and from the hospital, help with the hotel costs if the Ronald McDonald House is full and has also helped with bus fare for families that don’t have their own transportation.