Chicago Congenital Heart Walk Raises $167,000 for Research
Back in-person, The Children's Heart Foundation led the 2022 Chicago Congenital Heart Walk on June 11 at the Lincoln Park Rowing Lagoon, next to Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago is one of 29 cities across the country hosting walks this spring and summer as families fight against the number one birth defect in the United States: congenital heart disease.
The Congenital Heart Walk series directly supports the mission of The Children's Heart Foundation: to invest in the most promising research to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of congenital heart defects. This year, the Chicago walk raised over $167,000 for heart research, surpassing its initial goal of $110,500. 600 registered walkers and 40 teams participated in the walk, accompanied by superheroes such as Buzz Lightyear and Wonder Woman at the finish line.
Dr. Sunjay Kaushal, cardiovascular-thoracic surgeon and researcher at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, spoke of the need for funding congenital heart research. Dr. Kaushal is currently leading a clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of stem cells being injected into the hearts of children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a severe heart defect impacting about 1,025 infants each year. 15 years ago, The Children's Heart Foundation granted Dr. Kaushal's request for research funding, ultimately leading to today's federally approved clinical trial. Babies from across the country are currently participating in the second phase of this trial; some of whom were present with their families for the Chicago Heart Walk.
Families of heart children, both living and deceased, were present at the event pushing for funding as well. Parent of one stem cell trial participant, Allison Blomeke, said, "We don't know if our child received the stem cells yet, but we are happy to engage in any research that will help future heart warriors and their families to come. That's why we are here to support The Children's Heart Foundation- we know that research is what will help our heart warrior live a longer, healthier life."
Founded in 1996, The Children's Heart Foundation is the nation's leading organization solely dedicated to congenital heart disease funding and has invested nearly $14 million toward its cause to date. The research spans independently-funded research grants, joint-funding with the American Heart Association, multinetwork data sharing and benchmarking with Cardiac Networks United, and research fellowship with the American Academy of Pediatrics. This investment in research has significantly increased the survival, longevity and quality of life for congenital heart disease patients. There are now estimated to be between two and three million Americans living with congenital heart disease, enjoying longer, happier and healthier lives.
To learn more about The Children's Heart Foundation or to donate, visit www.childrensheartfoundation.org