Local Child’s Mission is to Mend Hearts of Afflicted Children; California Kids Raise Money to Present Gift of Life to Other Children

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Ten year old Jacob Sipos of Thousand Oaks was diagnosed with heart disease when he was just six weeks old. His parents received the news that he could die if corrective surgeries werenÂ?t performed. Ten years and four surgeries later, Jacob is now in the 5th grade. Unlike most ten year olds, Jacob continues to celebrate his birthdays by raising money to save lives.

Ten year old Jacob Sipos of Thousand Oaks was diagnosed with heart disease when he was just six weeks old. His parents received the news that he could die if corrective surgeries weren’t performed. Ten years and four surgeries later, Jacob is now in the 5th grade. Unlike most ten year olds, Jacob continues to celebrate his birthdays by raising money to save lives.

On his fifth birthday, Jacob asked not for a gift for himself, but for money to help other children with Congenital Heart Disease. At Jacob’s request his parents, Debbie and Neil, established The Jacob Sipos Honorary HEART Fund. It was through Jacob‘s desire to help others that the Sipos family met the Small family, who’s daughter Delaney was diagnosed with heart disease at one week of age. Following Delaney’s corrective heart surgery, Brenda and Craig Small established the Delaney Kate Honorary HEART Fund, much as the Sipos family had created Jacob’s.

In an effort to raise funds on a much broader level, the two families got together and combined their children’s funds to create “The Cardiac Kids Have H.E.A.R.T. Foundation” (CKHH), a non profit 501(c) (3) organization established in honor of Jacob and Delaney. The name is an acronym which stands for Helping Educate, Assist, Research and Treat children with Congenital Heart Disease.

To date, the Sipos and Small families combined have raised over $60,000 and an Inaugural charity fundraiser for CKHH is planned for Saturday, March 5 at 6:30 pm at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, 27040 Malibu Hills Road, Calabasas.

The fund raiser will offer wine tasting, dinner, a live and silent auction and a slide show; a pictorial history of CKHH. There will also be live music & Jacobs mother Debbie, a gifted musician, will perform a song she wrote at Jacob’s request, especially for the occasion. Jacob himself will give a speech and a special humanitarian award will be presented to Dr. Wen Cheng, the surgeon for both Jacob and Delaney.

Within a few months of establishing Jacob’s HEART Fund, the Sipos’ heard about Andy Aguirre, an Ecuadorian child. Andy’s heart had no right ventricle and he would die without surgery. In this 3rd World nation, there was no technology that could help Andy, until a traveling group of doctors, from Cedars Sinai Medical Center arrived in his village.

Andy Aguirre was the first of 5 children that the Sipos family sponsored. The Small family has sponsored an additional four children that otherwise would not have received the medical care they so desperately needed to stay alive.

Although the hospitals, doctors and nurses all volunteer their time and skill, and airlines will donate airfare, the operation still costs $9,000. Jacob’s Fund helped raise a portion of the funds and Andy’s was the first life to be saved by the fund. Cardiac Kids Have H.E.A.R.T. will continue to collect donations to ensure children worldwide can get the medical help they need.

According to Debbie Sipos, Craig Small, one of the founding members of CKHH, traveled to Ecuador with a team from Cedars Sinai to see firsthand what was needed. What he saw was heart wrenching; lines and lines of parents; literally hundreds of people with sick children, begging the doctors to take their child with them.

The experience galvanized CKHH to further increase fundraising efforts and the group hopes to raise over $30,000 on Saturday towards its goal of $100,000.00 during 2005. CKHH currently has four young children from various 3rd World countries that they are sponsoring for life saving surgery.

One of the key goals of CKHH, according to Debbie Sipos, is to promote education for pre and neonatal detection. While 1 out of 100 babies; 1% of the entire population, are born with congenital heart defects, it is often missed as a regular ultrasound does not have a high enough resolution to detect the minute defects.

CKHH encourages a broader use of Fetal Echo Cardiograms, which do have the capability. If caught early, some can even be operated on in utero, “women have Amnios, ultrasounds, pap smears and breast exams as a matter of course. We would like to see Fetal Echo Cardiograms become as regular an occurrence. Such a simple process can help save the lives of thousands of children. If caught early, the process can be so much simpler,” Sipos commented.

Jacob’s current long range goal is to become a doctor himself. His mother fondly remembers the story of a child from a 3rd World Country who many years ago was bought to the US for life saving surgery. As a young adult, he came back to the US and went through medical school, returning to his country as its 1st physician, “there is no better feeling than to know you have helped someone – you took part in saving the life of a human being. It is the greatest gift one person can give to another,” Sipos said.

For more information about Cardiac Kids Have H.E.A.R.T. and the fundraiser on Saturday, March 5, please call Debbie Sipos or Brenda Small at (805)497-3124, or (805) 558-9918.

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Sara Callahan
CARTER-WEST PUBLIC RELATIONS
949-742-0477
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