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Volunteers raise thousands to combat heart defects

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By Molly Haines

God’s Special Little Hearts just keeps growing and growing.

Saturday’s fifth-annual congenital heart defect (CHD) walk proved to be a successful event that raised nearly $9,000. The money will be donated to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital/Pediatric Cardiology Division and God’s Special Little Hearts Inc.

Chairperson for God’s Special Little Hearts Inc. Katie Columbia said about 400 people came out to support those with heart defects this year, an increase of almost 100 over last year. 

Twenty-eight teams participated in the walk and 13 vendors set up shop to help raise money for the cause.

Musicians performed throughout the day.

Two CHD survivors gave testimonies. Jerry Smith of Monterey gave a testimony on his CHD. Kendall Conley, 11, of Carroll County also gave a testimony on her condition.

Conley said her brother, who suffered from the same condition, died two months before she was born. When Conley was born, she suffered from the defect, and when she was 3 months old, she received a heart transplant.

Conley is now in the fifth grade and plays basketball. “I have a seven-inch scar on my chest – it is the door to my heart,” Conley said.

Columbia said fund-raising will continue through March with businesses selling $1 hearts in Owen and Carroll counties; with primary, elementary and middle school students participating in “change drives;” and with some CHD walk teams continuing to seek donations.