Fundraiser slated to support Muncy infant who received a new heart
MUNCY – It’s a tradition each February that those whose hearts are warmed by love for another person, demonstrate that depth of feeling with gifts of cards, flowers and chocolates. This year in Williamsport, a special “Chili & Chocolate” event is being planned from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, February 23, at Benjie’s Restaurant & Pub, 350 Hughes Street, prompted by love and support for 9-month-old Nolan Everett McLaughlin who recently received a new heart.
Nolan and his parents, Matthew and Corinne (Everett) McLaughlin of Muncy, were awaiting his heart transplant at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh since October 14, 2013 due to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
DCM occurs when disease affected muscle fibers are enlarged or stretched (dilated) in one or more chambers of the heart. Usually, the enlargement begins in one of the two lower pumping chambers and proceeds to the heart’s upper chambers as the condition progresses. Eventually all four of the heart’s chambers are affected as the heart tries to “compensate” its weakened condition and poor contraction by further stretching. Although DCM is usually an acquired condition in adults, it is mostly idiopathic (unknown cause) in children and the most common cause of death for those with heart disease.
Shortly after admission to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Nolan underwent open heart surgery and was placed on a ventricular assist device (Berlin Heart) to help his heart pump blood through the chambers. The next day, he was officially placed on the United Network of Organ Sharing’s (UNOS) list to receive a new heart. UNOS data from 2012 indicates that 187 children in the United States were heart candidates. Thirty-four percent of those children were younger than two-years old.
The call for which the family had been praying more than 100 days finally came and Nolan’s gift of life was received in the form of a new heart on January 24.
As a friend of the family, Rebecca Alexander has been deeply touched by their situation. “I have a 10-month-old daughter and can’t imagine enduring what they have gone through. Cori and Matt’s strength is so inspirational; Nolan is so blessed to have them as parents. I am honored to know them and even more so to be able to help them in any way I can. I know they would be the first to help anyone in need.” Alexander and a group of friends have worked together for several months organizing Nolan’s fundraiser.
The Chili & Chocolate fundraiser features a chili cook-off, silent auction, Chinese auction, raffles, door prizes and entertainment by The Corral and Zac Baggett & Isaiah Britton. Local restaurants, as well as teams and individuals, will compete in a chili cook-off in three categories: beef, vegetarian and non-traditional. Chocolate treats donated by many local bakers will be served.
“I think this will be a really fun benefit,” said Alexander. “Our desire is that individuals and businesses in our community will come together to celebrate and support the McLaughlins as well as to enjoy some delicious chili and chocolate. This coming together, supporting one another and becoming educated about cardiomyopathy and organ donation is something Cori and Matt are passionate about, and we are excited to have the opportunity to help make the community aware of these causes.”
Monies collected at the event will directly benefit the Nolan-Heart of Steel Fund, which assists the McLaughlin family in defraying medical expenses not covered by insurance, as well as medications Nolan will need to take for the rest of his life. Funding will also support children’s cardiomyopathy and transplant research.