Grand Junction’s Heart & Sole Glow Run raises funds for little boy
WHAT: Heart & Sole Glow Run 5K
WHEN: Dusk, Saturday, Oct. 4
WHERE: Edgewater Brewery (905 Struthers Ave., Grand Junction)
Jason Gutierrez, a Grand Junction resident, is like any typical 3-year-old boy. He loves to play outside, smile and make other people smile. One thing setting him apart, however, is his congenital heart condition.
“He’s so stinkin’ sweet,” Crystal Seever, Jason’s grandmother and Grand Junction resident, said. “You would never know he was fighting for his life every day.”
And Mary Kincaid, Jason’s mom, hoped a fundraiser would help with expenses for Jason’s numerous surgeries. Thus, the Heart & Sole Glow Run 5K was born — it’s set for Saturday, Oct. 4, and it starts at dusk near Edgewater Brewery (905 Struthers Ave., Grand Junction). On-site registration costs $40 and proceeds will benefit travel, food, and living expenses for Jason’s family between Colorado and California.
“Even if you don’t want to run, come say ‘hi’,” Seever said, who explained that simply receiving community support is uplifting for the family.
According to Seever, the run will be held at night along the Riverfront Trail System between Edgewater Brewery and Eagle Rim Park. Glow sticks are provided to runners, and they’re encouraged to dress in glow-in-the-dark attire. A DJ will also play music at Edgewater.
“Mary’s main goal is to bring awareness to the public about congenital heart defects,” she added.
When Jason was in his mother’s womb, he was diagnosed with a birth defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLSH), meaning he only has half a heart.
The condition is incurable, Seever explained, but research continues to help extend the life of those with the condition, like Jason. The family must travel often to Children’s Hospital Colorado and Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., rather than receive treatment locally due to Jason’s complex medical condition.
As Jason grows, his need for surgeries will continue. He recently received a defibrillator in his chest cavity — the risky surgery was, until Jason, never performed on a child. He is currently recovering in Denver at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
And after four open-heart surgeries, he is scheduled for a fifth in January.
“It’s a constant struggle and journey,” Kincaid noted.
Though Jason’s medical expenses are mostly paid through Medicaid, when the family spends several weeks in hospitals away from home and work, it costs them thousands of dollars out of pocket for hotels and food.
“These aren’t vacations; Jason’s life depends on it,” Seever said.
The family recently took a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida as part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. They are also active in Mended Little Hearts (a program which provides support for families of children with heart defects and heart disease) in western Colorado; it’s also a sponsor for the run.
For more information, search for Baby Jason’s Heart Journey on Facebook.
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