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Sept. 10 fund-raiser to help Hixon family

August 10, 2011 - It could be either fate or a minor miracle from God that brought Brian and Malyn Sneed of Boiling Springs, South Carolina, into the lives of Doug and Monica Hixon, of Oxford and their 4-year-old twins Dylan and David.

The Sneed family runs a charitable event in South Carolina called Impact of Hope, which offers hope to families by raising money to relieve the financial burden of a medical situation they are facing.

Following an incredible story of how the two families came together, the Sneed family is doing their first Impact of Hope charity event in Michigan for the Hixons because of the impact Dylan's story had on them.

Malyn said Dylan's story was truly one of the most amazing she ever heard.

"Four years old and having four major heart surgeries, and all the things he had been through and to hear him talk about how he went into cardiac arrest, it was just so scary and awful," Malyn said.

The event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. at Lake Area Christian School, 63590 Borgert Rd. in Sturgis, MI.

The event will also benefit another six-year-old child diagnosed with cancer.

In May 2010, the Leader was made aware of Dylan's need for a heart transplant.

Dylan was born with L-Transposition of the Great Arteries, which causes the right and left lower chambers of the heart to be reversed, thus reversing the blood flow to his heart.

By the age of four, Dylan had undergone three open heart surgeries, cardiac arrest, a mild stroke, had pacemakers and feeding tubes installed and spent several months on life support.

In September 2010, Dylan underwent a procedure to fix the leaky mitral and pulmonary valves in his heart.

Prior to September's procedure, Dylan had been taken off the heart transplant list because doctors feared his body would reject the new heart, and the aforementioned procedure was their only option.

Following the surgery, Dylan shocked everyone - he made a remarkable recovery and went home eight days later.

However, doctors determined in January the mitral valve repaired in September needed to be repaired again, so in April Dylan underwent a fourth open heart surgery to replace it.

According to Monica, the new valve should last about 10 years.

"After his last surgery, he is doing amazing," Monica said. "His energy level is good and he is active and happy."

She added Dylan will have to get his pulmonary valve replaced in the future, but she was going to wait until Dylan was older in order to have it done.

The Sneeds part in the Hixon's lives begins on a Saturday afternoon in late September when Brian and his father-in-law were attending a University of Michigan football game and just happened to run into Doug and his son David, who were sitting in front of them.

"My husband noticed him right away," Malyn recalled. "Doug had some food with him and his little boy and he was struggling to get to his seat."

According to Malyn, Brian got up to help Doug and offered to have them sit next to them.

Then out of the blue, Doug's neighbors spotted him and asked Doug, who is an Ohio State fan, why he was at the game.

Doug responded by saying the hospital gave him the tickets to take his mind off Dylan's surgery.

According to Malyn, it wasn't long after that when Brian learned of Dylan, his story and his condition at the time.

"Brian wrote down Doug and Dylan's names and didn't think much about it at the time because we had only done Impact of Hope in South Carolina," Malyn said. "But on the way home from the game, my dad and Brian were talking about doing Impact of Hope in Michigan and Brian was amazed that Doug sat right with them."

Brian wanted to do something for Doug, Monica and their two sons, so when they began organizing an Impact of Hope event in Michigan, they knew the Hixons would be one of the beneficiaries.

"That whole meeting was the reason we even wanted to have one in Brian got in touch with them and told them how we were doing Impact of Hope in Michigan, that God had really laid them on our hearts and we wanted to come over and meet with them and tell them a little more about it," Malyn said.

"I was very touched and I couldn't believe it," Monica said. "We are so thankful and we cannot believe Dylan is touching other people's heart from so far away."

The Sneed's always had a place in their heart for helping those in need, especially if it involves sick children.

"My husband and I just really have a heart for children, and usually it's sick children where it is just a hard situation for the families," Malyn said.

She added God usually reveals to them, through their connections with area churches, two local families to help. Their charity events usually involve a spaghetti dinner and entertainment featuring some area youth groups or choirs.

"We just want to bless them and let them know that God hasn't forgotten about them," she said.

According to Malyn, she and her husband agreed monies raised during Impact of Hope fund-raisers would not go towards medical expenses.

"It's not really for medical...most of the time my husband will tell the family we don't want you to pay medical bills with this. We want them to use it for something that is going to be beneficial for them," Malyn said.

Impact of Hope was started in 2007 when Doug found out a co-worker's son was going blind.

Then a month later he found out another one of his co-workers' wives was suffering from stomach cancer.

"He said he really felt that it was God saying to him you need to do something, you need to help people," Malyn said.

So he organized Impact of Hope and raised over $10,000 in the first event.

Malyn said she and Brian cannot wait for the Impact of Hope event in Michigan.

"We are super excited to be supporting the Hixons because we feel like it is a God thing, since we are all the way down here in South Carolina and just the way we met," she said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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