Taking big steps to help Australia’s tiny hearts

Eight babies are born in Australia every day with childhood heart disease. It’s the biggest cause of death and hospitalisation in children less than 12 months of age. But rather than feeling helpless, we can take some big steps in helping to change the statistics by completing the Big Steps for Little Hearts fundraising walk.

The inaugural 2.1km HeartKids walk will be happening across four locations on 11 October, 2015 – Parramatta, Newcastle, Orange and Canberra – and the public can help by taking part or sponsoring a walker.

Participants will walk with a balloon to signify their special connection to the cause. A blue balloon for heart kids, a red balloon for those walking in support of HeartKids, and a white balloon for those walking in memory of a ‘heart angel’.

At the completion of the walk, a 21second silence and the release of white balloons will honour the babies who have died, 21 being the number of days after conception that a child’s heart first starts beating.

“Our organisation helps families at one of the most emotional and financially draining times of their lives,” says David Rose, HeartKids NSW/ACT chief executive. “Our heart mums, volunteers and staff provide empathy, advice and practical support to parents who may have a child in hospital, including those with babies requiring heart surgery in their first few days of life. Heart kids can face multiple complex surgeries throughout their young lives and into adulthood.”

Childhood heart disease is not a single condition, or a result of lifestyle factors. It includes a wide range of heart defects which a child may be born with or develops in childhood as a result of other illnesses. Mr Rose says the Big Steps for Little Hearts walk celebrates the spirit of heart kids and the contribution made by supporters.

The walk will be held in Parramatta Park, Speers Point Park in Newcastle, Weston Park in Canberra and Gosling Creek Reserve in Orange on Sunday, 11 October. You can register for the walk as a family or individual.

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