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Why We Run for Riley


October 11, 2017
Topics: Donors, Heart (cardiology), Riley Kid Story



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The Clark Family, Fort Wayne

The annual Run for Riley in Fort Wayne has a special place in our family’s heart because Riley saved our son’s life. Josh was born with a rare set of life threatening heart defects called Shone’s Complex. When we found out how serious Josh’s heart defects were we weren’t sure if they were treatable, but Riley gave us hope. 

He needed two heart surgeries by the time he was 8 weeks old to survive. Josh’s aortic valve needed to be replaced, but at that time the choices in replacement heart valves were limited. He was too small for a mechanical heart valve, and a cadaver heart valve would have worn out much too quickly. Fortunately, there was a better alternative. Riley Pediatric Heart Surgeon Dr. John Brown was conducting a research study at Riley on a tissue valve, the Contegra valve. Josh had that valve replaced in a Ross-Konno operation along with a mitral valve repair and ASD closure. 

That valve and research study saved his life. Josh still has that valve in his heart almost 14 years later.  

Josh has been able to run on his school’s cross-country team. It is amazing with his complex heart defects that he can run cross country but because of the expertise in care that he got from Riley he can!  Hope really does happen at Riley!  

We know that valve will need replaced as he grows. Josh will need continued care, treatment and surgeries. This is where continued research is so important. We know that Riley will be there for him in the future when the time comes for those repairs and valve replacements. We are so blessed that Riley was there and saved him when he was born and we are so thankful that Riley is there for his future care too, continuing to give us hope. 

We are so honored for Josh to be a 2018 Riley Champion this year, to be one of the faces and voices for Riley and to help Riley save more kids. We are also so happy that we can give back to Riley and participate in this race. I encourage people in the Fort Wayne area to come out and show support for Riley. I hope you’ll join us at the Run for Riley this Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 2p.m. at Maple Creek Middle School.  It’s a great race, it’s always a lot of fun, 100% of the money goes to Riley, and you get a great long sleeved Run for Riley race shirt.

Your support really makes a difference, it will help save more kids across all areas of medicine and improve kids’ quality of life across the entire state.

Click here to learn more about Run for Riley on October 15.


Laura Clark

Laura and her husband Matt are the proud parents of four children: Elizabeth, Josh, Joel and Sarah Kate. Laura is a full-time mother and enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her family. She considers Riley part of her family, and enjoys participating in events for Riley Children’s Foundation including the Run for Riley in Fort Wayne.


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