Mended Little Hearts Christmas Party shows group has heart

BY TATYANA C. JOHNSON Published: December 6, 2009
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photo - Seth Baratz, 7, left, and Zachary Wright, 5, got their faces painted Saturday during a Mended Little Hearts Christmas Party. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman
Seth Baratz, 7, left, and Zachary Wright, 5, got their faces painted Saturday during a Mended Little Hearts Christmas Party. Photo by Steve Gooch,The Oklahoman
The sounds of children’s feet pattering, children laughing and playing and adults mingling were heard Saturday during the Mended Little Hearts Christmas Party.

Teresa Whited said the event was both to help spread awareness of congenital heart defects and give affected children and their families a nonthreatening environment in which to have fun.

"I feel as though this is a great event and the best part of my job, because I get to see the children at their sickest and happiest moments, like now, when they are walking, talking and running around,” said Whited, coordinator with Mended Little Hearts.

"We want to allow the children to be able to enjoy themselves in a non-medical environment while also informing everyone on congenital heart defects.”

Some families agree that having others there for support goes a long way.

Bryan and Tina LeMire of Tinker Air Force Base have a 17-month-old girl named Brielle who has undergone two open heart surgeries.

"It is wonderful to be able to find other families to connect to and have the opportunity to communicate about similar situations,” Tina LeMire said. "This party is great for Brielle because she really loves interacting with other kids.”

"Mended Little Hearts has assisted me in staying strong,” Jennifer Seibel said.

Seibel has three boys, one of whom is Luke, 3, who suffers from multiple heart defects and is on a pacemaker and uses a feeding tube.

"Dealing with such situations truly teaches a person not to take anything in life for granted, no matter how small. Everyone should appreciate the moments while you can,” Seibel said.

"Being a part of this function has allowed me to see the blessings that people tend to take for granted, like good health,” said Clay Cockrill, director of business development with Boldt Construction. Know It: Heart Disease