Group with close ties to heart defects to hold sale as fund-raiser

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

FERRIDAY &045;&045; A fund-raiser for the 2003 Miss-Lou Heart Walk at Promise Specialty Hospital, formerly Professional Rehabilitation Hospital, has personal meaning for the staff there. Children of three of the hospital’s employees were born with heart defects.

A giant garage sale will get under way at 7 a.m. Saturday and continue to noon in the parking lot of the hospital, 6818 Highway 84 West. In addition to items available at the garage sale, donated by hospital employees, businesses have given prizes to be raffled, with tickets at $2 each.

&uot;Prizes for this raffle range form a DVD player to free oil changes and tanning sessions with everything in between,&uot; said Jennifer Dungan, one of the organizers. &uot;This is our first year to have a team for the Heart Walk, and we have had a great turnout with employees signing up to walk, sell raffle tickets and participate in the garage sale.&uot;

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Once hospital employees organized a team, they began to pursue the idea of a garage sale.

&uot;At first, we thought we’d just let the company make a corporate donation, but then we really got excited about the team and then about the garage sale,&uot; Dungan said.

The money raised for the Heart Walk will go to the American Heart Association. The annual Heart Walk will be Nov. 8, with start-up at the Main Street Marketplace in Natchez.

&uot;Most people when they think of heart trouble tend to think of older people, but so many children are affected,&uot; Dungan said.

Dungan and her husband, Derrick, have a 3-year-old son, Austin, who was born with truncus arteriosus.

&uot;He has had two open-heart surgeries and will have to have more as he grows older,&uot; she said. &uot;And he lost one leg because of the heart defect.&uot;

Now at his young age, knowing only the prosthesis that has replaced his leg, he is a normal little boy, Dungan said.

&uot;He was two weeks old when he had his first surgery at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. His second surgery was in 2002 to replace a graft.&uot;

When his next surgery will be is an unknown. &uot;It depends on how quickly and how much he grows,&uot; she said.

Other heart poster children of the hospital are Ragan Huckaby, age 4, the daughter of Lee Huckaby, administrator, and his wife, Jessica. &uot;She was born with patent ductus arteriosus with an atrial septal defect,&uot; Dungan said. &uot;Because of research done by the American Heart Association, they were able to correct her problem without open-heart surgery. She is totally cured.&uot;

Glenn Tyler Cupit, 4, is the son of Mandy Cupit, another hospital employee, and her husband, Brad.

&uot;Tyler has had open-heart surgery to correct a defect called total anomalous pulmonary venous return.&uot;

The three children and their successful battles against heart disease have inspired enthusiasm for the Saturday garage sale and next week’s walk, Dungan said. &uot;Everyone is excited about what we are doing and the difference we can make,&uot; she said. &uot;And the garage sale will go on, rain or shine.&uot;