Volunteers walk to aid sick babies

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By Molly Haines

Families from Owen County, Carrollton, Bardstown and Frankfort turned out for the fourth annual Walk for Awareness for Congenital Heart Defects which was held at the Owenton First Baptist Church Family Life Center Saturday.

Owenton resident Katie Columbia, whose son Isaiah was born with heart defects, began the Walk for Awareness to show support for other families with children who had been affected by similar conditions.

“Before we started the Walk for Awareness, we would have to go other places for support groups,” Columbia said. “We would go to Louisville or Cincinnati – big cities.”

The walk is sponsored by God’s Special Little Hearts and the Owen County Extension Homemakers.

The Walk for Awareness has grown each year. This year, approximately 350 people attended.

“That’s 50 more than we had last year,” Columbia said.

Five children from Owenton were represented by survivor teams, as well as three “in memory” teams. As the child’s name was called, their team took to the track for the memory and survivor walks.

Ten vendors came out to show their support for the children by donating 10 to 20 percent of that day’s earnings to the cause.

Vendor Kim Hearn, whose granddaughter is a heart-defect survivor, said she was happy to see Owen County citizens coming out to show their support for such a worthy cause.

“I didn’t know until my granddaughter got sick that Owen County even had an organization like this,” Hearn said. “It really is a great thing.”

Fifty percent of the funds raised from the walk and walk-related activities during February will be donated to University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Cathy Johnson, a registered nurse on the pediatric cardiology floor at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, said she couldn’t believe the support shown by Owen County citizens.

“This is such an important event to me,” Johnson said. “The money raised will allow us to do more of what we need to do to provide the best care possible for these children.”

The walk alone raised $9,025. The “Change for CHDs” drive within the Owen County schools started Monday and will continue through Feb. 20. Several businesses in Owen and Carroll counties are selling hearts for $1 to their patrons throughout the month of February.

“With all the activities going on, by the end of February I expect the totals to be close to last year’s total of $16,000,” Columbia said.