The Estrellita de Belen Foundation will celebrate its first anniversary with the Hearts with Running Legs Anniversary 5K run/walk at Jacksonville Beach beginning at 9 a.m. Nov. 6.
The nonprofit organization was founded by Belen Blanton to raise money to help fight for children dealing with congenital heart disease in her birth country of Venezuela.
“Our vision is to live in a world where every child has a mighty heart,” Blanton said. “We work with parents, caregivers and local volunteers to meet the immediate needs of our little heart warriors.”
The charity run/walk will be 3.1 miles and will start at the 16th Street public beach access point, and the goal of the event is to raise $10,000.
Blanton was born with a congenital heart defect known as tricuspid atresia, which has led to her having to live with Eisenmenger Syndrome, which according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause blood to circulate abnormally in a person’s heart and lungs.
She moved to the United States 34 years ago but has continued to stay in touch with what is going on in Venezuela.
Although Blanton understood the struggles she has endured in her life due to being born with a congenital heart defect, she was not aware of the magnitude of the situation in her native land until she spoke with Dr. Ivan Machado Hernandez, who is a doctor and professor of cardiology at a university in Venezuela.
According to Blanton, Venezuela has more than 4,000 children born annually that suffer from congenital heart defects. Eighty percent of them end up requiring surgery prior to their first birthday.
However, about 2,000 children are on a waiting list for surgery, but many die while awaiting the care they need.
“I now dedicate my life to fight for the children with congenital heart defects in my country of Venezuela,” Blanton said. “Our foundation provides the resources to aid families through appointment scheduling, medical supplies and nutritional supplements.”
A registration fee will be required for each participant. Entry into the event as well as a T-shirt is $25, while general admission is $10.
Anybody wanting to take part can register by going to fundacionestrellitadebelen.org/events. Donations toward the cause can also be made online.