A celebration for heart warriors and remembrance ceremony for heart angels was held Sunday July 29 at Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village. Mended Little Hearts of Chicago (MLHC) came together for their first annual family picnic to celebrate the lives of their children who have fought to survive the #1 birth defect in the United States, congenital heart defects (CHD), and remembered those who lost their battle against it. Mended Little Hearts is a program of the Mended Hearts Inc., a non-profit, volunteer-based organization providing hope, help and healing to heart patients and their families since 1951. The Mended Little Hearts program works nationally and within the Chicago area to support children with congenital heart defects and their families.
Over 80 children and adults enjoyed a fun-filled day complete with food donated by Oak Lawn Rotary and served up by KohlsCares volunteers from Kohls Schaumburg East, a special visit from Schaumburg Boomer, crafts ran by Stuffed Love and Interact Club of Oak Lawn, manicures by PolishedGirlz, face painting and games. Children even had the opportunity to sit in a real fire truck that Elk Grove Village Fire Department brought out for the afternoon. After lunch was served, red balloons in honor of CHD heart warriors and white balloons in remembrance of CHD heart angels were released.
“The balloon ceremony was a quiet reminder of how many are affected by CHD's, but also so inspirational to see the kids' excitement as they let their balloons go in the air. The day was all about our heart heros and celebrating their lives. My husband and I continue to remember how fortunate we are that our son is healthy now, after almost losing him shortly after his birth to a severe congenital heart defect. Now three years later, he had a wonderful time playing with other CHD kids at the picnic and building friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. We're all a big family, connected by the journeys our little heart warriors and angels have traveled,” says Jenny Shirley, mother of heart warrior Rowan.
Sonia Rodriguez, mother of CHD heart angel Max, shared her thoughts on the day. “It was such a heartfelt event sharing stories with other heart families especially with other heart angel moms as myself. Losing my son to HLHS has been the upmost heartache in my life but attending this event has made me feel that I’m not alone in this journey and that I have the support of many wonderful heart families. The remembrance ceremony for the CHD angels is a feeling that is so hard to express how meaningful it meant to my broken heart knowing that our angels continue to live in our hearts.”
In addition to support meetings and family events, Mended Little Hearts of Chicago serves four Chicagoland Hospitals through the delivery of over 80 care bags a month to Advocate Hope Children's Hospital, Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Rush University Medical Center. Care bags contain a variety of items to offer comfort for both parents and heart patient.
Families and caregivers of children born with congenital heart defects looking for support, please contact MLHC. Mended Little Hearts of Chicago is seeking individual donations and corporate sponsorship to keep their programs going as they are a self-supporting 501(c)(3) volunteer-run organization. Please visit their website at http://www.mlhchicago.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.