By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – Kim Edgren, a Southborough native who now lives in North Grafton, attended a conference a few years ago and learned about the Congenital Heart Walk, a national fundraiser that began in several cities in 2010. As a congenital heart defect (CHD) survivor, she felt compelled to volunteer as committee chair of the first Boston walk in 2012. She has served as its chair each year since.
“Having survived CHD my whole life, I really wanted to give back to the community,” she said. “We need more awareness because a lot of people don’t know what CHD is. It’s the number one birth defect and it’s a lifelong illness.”
Now, Edgren is preparing for the fourth annual Congenital Heart Walk – Boston, to be held Saturday, April 25. Funds raised go to the Adult Congenital Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation. The past three Boston walks have raised over $205,000.
Her mother, Dolores Edgren of Southborough, is the captain of Team Wee Care for Kimmie. New this year, her mother and the team organized a fundraising kickoff to be held Saturday, March 28, from 7 p.m. to midnight at Acacia at Indian Meadows in Westborough.
Edgren welcomes public venues like these and others to raise visibility and funds for CHD research.
“I had two palliative surgeries when I was 1 and 2 years old,” she explained. “Growing up, I couldn’t walk across the room without turning blue because I had such low oxygen. Then I had surgery at 9 to correct it. They put in a new valve and restructured my heart. I was actually able to be very active. But that conduit has been replaced three times. It’s an ongoing issue. Even at this point, I anticipate another procedure down the road.”
While participating each year in the Congenital Heart Walk, she’s comforted by interacting with others whose lives have been touched by CHD. The walk offers family-friendly one- and two-mile routes around Boston Common.
“I most enjoy meeting other people affected by CHD, having the families and survivors come together,” she said. “Some of them are meeting other people with CHD for the first time. It’s a chance to raise money, knowing that it could benefit a child’s life or their own life through treatment options that aren’t available yet.”
The fundraising kickoff in Westborough will feature guest speaker Dr. David Kane of the UMass Memorial Medical Group. He’ll deliver an important message, Edgren noted.
“One of the big issues for the CHD community is making sure that pediatric patients transition to being treated by qualified adult congenital heart doctors,” she said. “Dr. Kane really stresses the need for families of pediatric patients to understand that it’s a lifelong illness that needs lifelong care by the appropriate people. Advancement has now created the fact that there are more adults living with CHD than children, and that’s a whole new field. Many kids don’t survive their defects and the ones that do really need to have this care going forward.”
The kickoff will be balanced with fun activities including a deejay, dancing, food stations, drinks, chance tickets and a silent auction. Among the prizes are Patriots and Red Sox tickets, a week at Fay School Summer Day Camp in Southborough, jewelry donated by Towne & Country Jewelers in Westborough, and a spa day at Nicholas Michaels Spa in Northborough.
Tickets are $60 per person and a table for eight is $450. For ticket information, email Dolores Edgren at [email protected].