BORDER families are calling on the romantics among us to have a heart this Valentine’s Day and make a difference.
Instead of buying into the commercialism, with $900 million spent in Australia on chocolates, dinners, flowers and gifts, HeartKids Australia is running its inaugural Sweetheart Day.
The foundation aims to raise awareness of childhood heart disease, and raises funds to support families and continue research.
Thurgoona mum Cathie Kelly said people could donate or buy virtual gifts — like virtual flowers — online to help the charity.
Her son, Noah, was born with ventricular septal defect and had open heart surgery within weeks of his birth.
“When you get home from hospital it hits you like a tonne of bricks what’s just happened,” she said.
“And I felt like a first time mum even though I wasn’t — we had been sent home six days after surgery and you think, what do I do?
“But mums can come to HeartKids and it’s good to talk to someone.
“Friends and family are there but they don’t always understand what you’ve gone through.”
April Schubert’s son, Luke, 7, was diagnosed with truncus arteriosus and had open heart surgery by the time he was three years old.
Mrs Schubert said the Border group had about 20 families registered but wanted others to join.
“A lot of the original members’ children are now teenagers,” she said.
“And a lot of them don’t need to go back for more surgery so they’ve moved on.
“There’s a new wave of families coming through we’d like to get more people coming to the group ... I don’t think people realise how many children have it.”
Childhood heart disease is the biggest killer of children under five, and takes more lives than all other childhood diseases combined.
Heartkids Albury-Wodonga meets on the last Wednesday of each month at Cafe Grove on High Street, Wodonga, at 9.30am.
To donate to the fundraising drive, or for more information visit sweetheartday.org.au.
For more information about the HeartKids Albury-Wodonga group, phone April on 0407 551 967 or Cathie on 0417 049 341.
See tomorrow’s Pulse for more pictures and to read their stories.