Dear Help-A-Heart Friends,

As we reflect back 2018, we are truly blessed by the support of all of our heart families & their loved ones.  We are challenged daily to further our mission of ‘sharing love by providing emotional and financial support to Iowa families affected by congenital heart disease (CHD).  Here’s a few highlights from our year…

84 Families received a meal on their child’s surgery day.  While this can seem like a simple gesture, it is a huge blessing to provide a meal for our families while they wait for their child to come out of surgery.

We were blown away when we added up the numbers from the 13th Annual ‘Celebration of Life’ Dinner & Silent Auction held in June.  We had close to 450 people attend & raised just over $21,000!  We have a goal of breaking $25k in 2019!  Mark your calendars for June 24th, 2018!

We continued giving out The Mended Heart Bummer Bears, that have a zipper scar on their chest & a stitched up heart, to children facing or recovering from an open heart surgery this year.  In 2018, we gave out over 100 bears!  if you would like to sponsor a bear, click the ‘Donate’ button at the bottom of this email & check out one of our adorable CHD warriors with her bear.  Every $40 donated sponsors 1 Bummer Bear.

During 2018, we continued our financial support of our heart families at $100 per week when their CHD warrior is hospitalized longer than 2 weeks.  In the last 12 months, we have given away over $30,000 to families in need in gas cards, food cards or other monetary assistance.  Now that’s something to celebrate!

Thanks to all of you who were able to attend the 5th Annual Superhero Heart Run in October. Despite the frigid temps, rain & SNOW, we raised over $34,000 at the event & had over 400 people attend!  We share the proceeds of this event with Heart Heroes, a nonprofit out of Omaha that provides personalized superhero capes to children with CHD’s.  If a CHD warrior you know doesn’t have one, you can request one for FREE on their website!  Save the Date for October 13th, 2018!  We can promise the weather will be better next year (fingers crossed)!

What do an Iowa Wolves game, Dreamnight at the Blank Park Zoo, the annual Summer Potluck, a Santa Visit & a Valentine’s Day party all have in common?  These are all fun events for our Support Group families held throughout the year!  On average, we have 20-30 adults & kids attend our monthly Support Group meetings.  The friendships made between our families & the support that they offer to one another are truly priceless.

Help-A-Heart was the recipient of several outside fundraisers held throughout the year.  We received $10,000 from the Sammons Financial Group, $4,000 from Scheel’s, & $1,300 from Metro Business Friends networking group.  We’ve also been on the receiving end of donations of books, toys & restaurant gift cards for our CHD warriors in the hospital.  A few of these donations have been birthdays where the children wanted to collect donations for Help-A-Heart instead of receiving gifts for themselves!  We feel privileged to receive these donations & are blessed to pass them along to brighten the day of our heart families

The 10th Annual Dylan’s Dragon Walk was held in April at the Wagner Park Bandshell in Ankeny as a remembrance walk for all of our angel families.  The sun was shining brightly as many family & friends gathered to release balloons in memory of their precious children gone too soon.  In 2017, we started a Bereavement Team of 7 of our heart angel mamas who are working on supporting families faced with the unimaginable loss of their child.  They plan meetings four times a year for our angel families to gather & support each other.  Forever in our hearts, never forgotten.

We now have 343 families in our Support Group distribution list.  While our heart aches every time a new family joins our ‘heart family’, we are so blessed to have the resources to offer them emotional & financial support in their time of need.

Help-A-Heart wants to thank you for all of your support this year!  We hope to see you again in 2019!

Emily Graber & Melissa Hooper

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