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Man runs 310 miles in 10 days through Cleveland area to help kids with congenital heart defects

Kevin VilleMonte is running to support the organization Conquering CHD
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 10:17 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Michigan man vowing to run 310 miles in 10 days is scheduled to come through the Cleveland-area May 25.

Kevin VilleMonte is running from his home in Gregory, Michigan to Buffalo, New York.

He’s on this journey to raise awareness and money for the organization Conquering CHD.

Kevin VilleMonte is about to run 310 miles in 10 days to support children with congenitial...
Kevin VilleMonte is about to run 310 miles in 10 days to support children with congenitial heart defects.(Kevin VilleMonte)

This year in the U.S., more than 40,000 children will be born with a congenital heart defect.

“I want to put myself on the line for these people. I want to put everything that I possibly can into helping,” VilleMonte said. I’m not trying to set a record or a personal record. I’m just doing it to start and finish.

The avid runner said he’s planning to run about 75% of the miles and walk the rest.

The goal is 31 miles a day. His wife will be following in a support vehicle.

On his mind will be a young girl by the name of Indiana— “Indie” is her nickname.

VilleMonte’s love of Disc Golf introduced him to Indie’s father.

He later learned the young girl was born with multiple congenital heart defects and required open-heart surgery shortly after birth. Conquering CHD states 1 in 100 newborns are born with congenital heart defects.

“Before I looked into it, I knew nothing about it,” VilleMonte said. “Now I literally know about 25 to 30 people personally-- with friends or family who have a congenital heart defect.”

He’s scheduled to run through the Cleveland-area the afternoon of May 25.

Melina Parker is organizing a meet and greet at the Euclid Creek Reservation, at 3:00 p.m. at the Upper Highland Picnic Area.

The public is invited. She wanted to do something to motivate VilleMonte and honor CHD families-- like hers.

Her son Gatlin was born in February of 2019.

Gatlin Parker died, in 2019, two months after his birth from complications of a congenital...
Gatlin Parker died, in 2019, two months after his birth from complications of a congenital heart defect.(Melina Parker)

“He was born with very complex congenital heart defect. We had him at the University of Michigan, and he had open heart surgery three-days-old,” Parker said. “(He) went on and proceeded to have a lot of complications. We lost him at two-months-old. He went into heart failure, and he passed away in April of 2019. So ever since then, my husband and I have pretty much just made it a point to raise awareness.”

The family turned their darkest days into hopeful ones.

Parker works with the Ohio chapter of Conquering CHD.

They fight for families-- from prenatal diagnosis through adulthood-- and those who have lost loved ones.

“It opened a lot of emotion, but it is a way for me that I feel I’m doing my son a great, great honor,” Parker said.

The Parker family is honoring their son, Gatlin, who died in 2019.
The Parker family is honoring their son, Gatlin, who died in 2019.(Melina Gatlin)

About 10 months ago she and her husband welcomed a daughter to their family. Her name is Hazel.

The family is grateful for people like Kevin.

“For him to go above and beyond for our children, I feel like we owe him respect,” Parker said.

Donations are still being accepted online for the run that is officially named ’310 Miles In 10 Days – A Run For (And From) The Heart’.

People can even track VilleMonte’s progress here.

VilleMonte knows each step he takes is one toward saving more lives.

“And now I’m hearing that there’s people who just want to be along my route, at all different points, just cheering me on. That just that motivates me even more. That makes me even want to do it even more. Obviously, I’m very nervous. I’m very excited about it. But like I said it’s become personal to me.”

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