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February is the month of the heart

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Westwood boys Marcus Trickett and Cole Kehler show the heart pillow they received from the hospital when they had their open heart surgeries.

SUPPLIED PHOTO BY SHANNON TRICKETT Enlarge Image

Westwood boys Marcus Trickett and Cole Kehler show the heart pillow they received from the hospital when they had their open heart surgeries. Photo Store

If I asked you to associate an image with the month of February, you would probably think of a heart shape.

And why not? With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, every store has had hearts up since Christmas. Hopefully, you also thought of a heart because of the success of charitable organizations seeking to raise funds and awareness about heart health.

February is Heart Month for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. According to its website, Heart Month is the foundation’s biggest and most well-known campaign.

You probably know someone who has been affected by heart disease or stroke. Some 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor. So how will you take part in Heart Month? Will you make a donation?

You might also want to take time to review the signs of stroke or heart attack, enroll in a first aid course, or set a new course for a healthy lifestyle if you are at risk. Go to heartandstroke.ca or pick up a pamphlet or two at your pharmacy for more information.

Perhaps lesser known, Circle of Hearts Family Support Network is a non-profit children’s charity which represents pediatric heart patients and families of the Variety Children’s Heart Centre in Winnipeg.

Circle of Hearts provides education, emotional and financial support to families with children with congenital or acquired heart defects. Kids like Westwood boys Marcus Trickett and Cole Kehler. Both boys were born with a heart defect —hypolplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), to be exact — and both have had three open-heart surgeries each, not to mention countless other procedures.

For these boys and their families, Circle of Hearts has been a vital partner in their ongoing efforts to be healthy, happy, confident kids.

Events like as an annual Christmas party hosted by the Clarion Hotel help them connect with other ‘heart kids’ and their families. Other activities, such as a summer camp and a family picnic, allow the boys and their peers to do things any kids might do.

This year, the Circle of Hearts Bud, Spud & Steak fundraiser is at Tijuana Yacht Club on Sat., Feb. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets will be available at the door for $20 or you can just make a donation instead. For more information on Circle of Hearts, visit circleofhearts.ca. or leave a message at 204-231-0797.

Sharon Pfeifer is a community correspondent for Westwood. You can contact her at sdrinteractive@shaw.ca

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