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Sweet way to save kids with heart defects

August 25, 2010 - Yummy ice cream, delicious food and helping a great cause makes Culver's of Clarkston the place to be this Saturday.

Culver's is hosting their first annual Scoop for Hearts with activities for the entire family while donating 10 percent of all proceeds to the Children's Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization for children born with congenital heart defects.

"We do a lot of fundraisers at Culver's and we thought we could put on a good event for the foundation," said Katie Schmitt, owner and operator of the Clarkston Culver's.

Schmitt and Kevin Powers, her brother and operating partner, became involved with the foundation when Kevin's son was born with a congenital heart defect call Aortic Stenosis - in which the aortic valce is too narrow to pump oxygenated blood efficiently.

Kevin and Sally, his wife, didn't know anything about abnormally structured hearts and the hospital gave them a book called "It's My Heart," produced and distributed by the Children's Heart Foundation.

"They were immediately there for us," said Sally, remembering when Sam was born two years ago.

The nurse heard a loud murmur in Sam's heart the day after he was born. They performed an echocardiogram and found the defect. Three months laster he had an open heart surgery.

"The procedure they did was truly amazing," said Schmitt. "He is doing great. You would never know the difference."

Sally and Kevin learned more about the organization and chances it happens to other children. They found out every 15 minutes a child is born with a heart defect and it is the most fatal birth defect.

"My husband and I are still shocked by the face congenital heart defects are the most common and deadly birth defect in the U.S.," said Sally. "The Children's Heart Foundation is the only organization solely focusing on funding research for congenital heart defects in children. Since this is going to be my child's future I knew the best way to help improve his future was to get involved."

Getting involved would also mean helping out other children at the same time - which is what Scoop for Hearts on Saturday is all about.

"It's special to me," said Schmitt. "Anything we can do to help Children's Heart Foundation and research is great."

They chose Culver's for two reasons - the business traditionally helps the community and because it is a family restaurant.

"It's a wonderful gathering spot for families to share a meal and spend time together," said Sally.

Culver's is located at 6910 Sashabaw Road and open 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. the fun expands to outside with kids' pony rides, inflatables, entertainers, an outdoor frozen custard cart with guest scoopers. Also, meet the doctors, nurses and visitors from the Oakland County Sheriff's Department and Independence Fire Department.

Entrance to the event is free.

Culver's is selling raffle tickets for $5 with all proceeds going to Children's Heart Foundation. Raffle prize include free hair cuts, pedicure, or manicure from Randolph's Salon, passes to Pine Knob Ski Resort, $100 gift certificate to Stars & Stripes Gymnastics Academy, a free membership for Great Lakes Athletic Club, a family day pass to Detroit Children's Museum, a signed basketball from the Detroit Pistons, a signed baseball from the Detroit Tigers and more.

For more information, including a schedule of events and participating Culver's, please visit www.scoopforhearts.com or call Culver's of Clarkston

"It's true when the foundation says as their motto 'We save children's lives. One heart at a time.' Our fundraiser is a step towards achieving that goal," said Sally.

Sally and Kevin would like to start a Children's Heart Foundation chapter here in Michigan. Currently there are eight states with chapters.

For more information, visit www.childrensheartfoundation.org.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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