Local Foundation Raises Money for Congenital Heart Defects - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Local Foundation Raises Money for Congenital Heart Defects

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A local family started a foundation to honor their late daughter, who passed away from a congenital heart defect. The family to channel its grief into something positive.

Krista and Zack Arnold live in Bridgeport with their three children. They had their first daughter, Elle, in August of 2008. She died just five weeks later from a congenital heart defect. After her death, the Arnolds made a promise to each other.

"When we lost Elle, we made a commitment to each other that we would make sure that we never forgot her, and that her memory lived on forever. This was just a natural way for us to build on the emotion we had and turn it into something so positive" said Zack Arnold, Elle's father.

The Arnolds did just that. They established the Elle Foundation on January 1, 2009. All of the money raised for the foundation goes directly to research and treatment of congenital heart defects.

"Congenital heart defects are actually the number one birth defect, and the leading cause of death among children. Even though that's the case, congenital heart defect research and treatment is extremely under funded. It receives one-fifth the funding that pediatric cancer receives…even though twice as many children die every year from congenital heart defects" explained Krista Arnold, Elle's mother.

The Arnolds recently raised more than $25,000 through donations and fundraisers. They split the money among three hospitals to buy home monitoring systems for infants. Krista said they can be life savers.

"Research has proven that if oxygen saturation levels are monitored and that their weight is monitored, that it can raise red flags that wouldn't be seen to the naked eye" she said.

The Arnolds do various fundraisers. Zack is planning to run a marathon in March, and is using his hobby to support the foundation.

"It's been a good opportunity for me to take what I like to do, and use it to raise money for the Elle Foundation and raise awareness for congenital heart defects" said Zack.

The family has a Facebook page, a website, and Zack's "Go Fund Me" page for his upcoming marathon. You can visit those pages to learn more or to donate to the Elle Foundation.