Young boy to lead heart walk in Greencastle Sunday

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Three-year-old congenital heart defect survivor Collin Boyd from Hagerstown, Md., will represent all heart and stroke survivors as the Red Cap Heart Hero for the American Heart Association's 19th annual Mason Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk on Sunday, Sept. 23, in Greencastle. Other heart and stroke survivors will also be recognized with red caps.

Registration for the walk begins at 12:30 p.m.; the walk kicks off at 1:30 p.m. The event will start and finish at Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, 500 E. Leitersburg St., Greencastle. Walkers will have the option of walking a 4 mile route or a 1.3 mile route. The walk will feature various activities including blood pressure screenings, face painting, sponsor displays, and the opportunity to ask health questions to medical professionals.

The hero

When Kristin Boyd, Collin's mother, was just 20 weeks pregnant, Collin was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a serious heart condition in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. Kristin became the 123rd person ever in the United States to undergo a fetal intervention to repair his heart. The surgery was performed at Children's Hospital of Boston. After Collin was born, he underwent three open-heart operations, four heart catheterizations, and has had three heart stents placed, all by Children's National Medical Center.

The surgeries fixed Collin's heart temporarily, but his future remains uncertain. In January, his family was given devastating news that Collin had also developed Protein Losing Enteropathy, a condition only 5 percent of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome children develop. Currently, there is no cure and Collin's parents were told to prepare for Collin to live for three to five more years.

Despite all he has been through, Collin is a happy boy with a sunny personality. He enjoys singing and dancing to country music and loves Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Collin's family will be participating in the Mason Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk as part of Team Collin.

The walk

There are currently 69 company, family and community teams registered to participate. The total fundraising goal for the Mason Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk is $150,000. Walkers who raise a minimum of $100 will receive a Heart Walk T-shirt and the opportunity to receive additional prizes based on their fundraising levels.

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association's premiere event that brings communities together to raise funds and celebrate progress in the fight against this country's number one and number four killers, heart disease and stroke. Dollars raised from events like the Mason Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk fund critical heart and stroke research, the American Heart Association's top priority, as well as educational programs and public advocacy.

The association has contributed to many medical advances, providing funding for discoveries such as drug eluding stents, CPR, Coronary Care Units, pacemakers, artificial heart valves, heart transplants, bypass surgery, the heart-lung machine, blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs, and surgical techniques to repair heart defects. Since 2005, the American Heart Association has invested $2.2 million into 17 projects related to Collin's condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Community support through heart walks and other events are critical to ensuring life-saving research is funded and put to good use. In 2011 alone, more than 32 highly meritorious research proposals totaling $2.5 million went unfunded in Pennsylvania due to a lack of funds. In Maryland, 25 projects totaling more than $3 million went unfunded.

The chair of the 2012 Mason Dixon Heart and Stroke Walk is Al Mason, CPA and recently retired director of finance for the City of Hagerstown. The walk is sponsored nationally by Subway Restaurants and Jenny. Local sponsors include: M&T Bank; Manitowoc Crane; Summit Cardiology; F&M Trust; Susquehanna Bank; and World Kitchen.

New teams or individual walkers may register online at www.heart.org/masondixonwalk. For more information about participating in the walk, contact the American Heart Association at 717-263-2870 X 4261, toll-free at 877-584-8146 or email masondixon.ahw@heart.org