Volunteers raise thousands to aid sick children and their families

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By John Whitlock

About halfway through this year’s Walk For Congenital Heart Defects Awareness, Katie Columbia had a problem.
The larger-than-expected crowd had drank all the soda pop.
But, Columbia said, that was a good problem to have.
“We ordered the same amount of pop as last year but we ran out,” Columbia said.
Volunteers ran out to get more drinks to make sure no one went thirsty.
The soda pop situation was one of several bumps Columbia and the volunteers overcame this year to make the event successful.
Columbia, who works with God’s Special Little Hearts and is one of the driving forces behind the event, said this year’s crowd was bigger than last year.
The walk is an effort to raise awareness and support for children suffering from congenital heart defects.
“We had around 100 more people sign in than last year and the crowd was spread out through the day and not just at the recognition walk time at 3 p.m.,” Columbia said.
For once, the bad weather was credited with helping attendance along with many new volunteers.
“I think crowd was bigger due to having some new members that helped this year, new people that performed for us and just the fact that people were probably getting stir crazy with the weather being so yucky,” Columbia said.
Columbia said the amount of money raised is hovering around last year’s level.
“We raised almost $7,000 so far.  That is about what we had last year at this time and when we stopped receiving donations, we had a little over $14,000,” Columbia said.
Although each event creates special moments, Columbia said this year, things just seemed destined to go smoothly.
“The most memorable moment this year would have to be how everything just fell together. Some of the people who were to perform this year had something come up and had to cancel at the last minute. We ended up finding someone to take their place as late as 30 min. before they were to perform,” Columbia said. “We also had three heart transplant people in the building at the same time - one from Owen County, one was from Carrollton and the other came all the way from West Chester, Ohio.
With the addition of two new teams of walkers, this year’s event boasted 30 teams which were recognized during the recognition walk.
“Overall, the event went great and I appreciate all the support from the community and everyone that had a hand in making this event happen,” Columbia said. “This was the ninth year for the event and we have never had anyone tell us they couldn’t help or didn’t want to help. We had a lot of support from the Carrollton area, as well, as we have two members on our board from Carroll County.”