On September 24th, Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan (MLH-WM) held its second Funky Heart 5K in Alto. Heart defects are the most common and most deadly birth defect, affecting approximately 1 in 110 babies. Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan provides much-needed hope and support to families dealing with congenital heart defects through educational programs, social events and care bag programs. The Funky Heart 5K helps raise awareness about congenital heart defects (CHD) and support these programs.
Among those running were the DSAWM Rapid Runners. The group trained for three months to prepare for the race. In addition to their desire to become healthier and see how strong their bodies are, these runners all happen to have Down syndrome; nearly half of all babies born with Down syndrome also have a heart defect, so participating in the Funky Heart 5K was a meaningful way to mark the end of their training season. “We’re so excited that this inspirational group of runners chose the Funky Heart 5k as their race,” said Jennifer Dougherty, MLH-WM outreach coordinator. “Running a 5k is a great accomplishment, and we are very excited to share this experience with the Rapid Runners.”
The Rapid Runners program was created by the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM) to support healthy lifestyle choices for teens and adults with Down syndrome, and dispel myths about the abilities of people with Down syndrome. The program was made possible by a grant from West Michigan based Gazelle Sports Foundation.