Health Team

Durham charity gets Christmas boost from Raleigh race company

Posted December 24, 2015

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— A Durham charity for children with congenital heart defects got an early Christmas present from a Raleigh-based company that organizes races to benefit local charities.

The check, from Race 13.1, will help ease the burdens for children and their families during long stays at Duke University Hospital.

There are countless children born with congenital heart disease who are treated at Duke Hospital. Sometimes their stays are short, but some patients and their families stay for months and come back years later for more surgeries.

"We have been through it ourselves," said Dene Almeida, a mother of a child who had heart surgery at Duke. "We know what it's like to be here."

Almeida's son, Jack, had surgery when he was just 4 days old to begin repair of a severe heart defect.

The experience inspired the Almeidas, and many other families like them, to collaborate with Duke's medical staff to start a charity called Heart to Heart.

"We want to improve the lives and hospital stays of the children that are here," Almeida said.

Money raised for the charity helps bring programs and toys to the children and provides other conveniences for their families.

Duke pediatric cardiologist Dr. Michael Campbell said the money helps pay for some of the little things.

"Things as simple as paying for parking and travel, gift baskets and things to try and help make that stay easier," Campbell said.

Recently, their mission got a big boost from Race 13.1.

Charlie Mercer, a spokesman for the race company, said Race 13.1 puts on races all over the country. This year, they held 20 races.

As they scheduled their first fundraising race in Durham for Dec. 12, they searched for a special recipient.

"So, finding Heart to heart was just wonderful in Durham – and I think we made a pretty big impact," Mercer said.

"They helped us raise over $3,000," Almeida said, "and it will all be going toward the Heart to Heart charity."

For Heart to Heart, it was an early and welcomed Christmas gift.


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