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5K Run Raises Thousands for Valdes Family

A benefit for Abbie Valdes, an 11-month-old with heart defects and DiGeorge Syndrome, brought out 150 runners on Saturday, and raised money to cover the family's medical expenses.

On Saturday, roughly 150 people trekked out to a park on the west side of Montgomery to run (or walk) five kilometers in the hot sun. They did this to help one frail little girl from Plano, and her parents, who are fighting for her life day in and day out.

And by the day's end, they'd raised $9,453, which will go a long way to helping this family pay their mountains of medical bills.

Abbie Valdes was born with multiple heart defects, and an immune deficiency called DiGeorge Syndrome, caused by a missing piece of chromosome. She’s had two open heart surgeries, spent weeks on end in the hospital, and takes all her food through a tube in her stomach. And next month, she’ll turn one year old.

Abbie’s health problems have taken a financial toll on her parents, James and Christine. Which is why James’ co-workers at Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora decided to throw a benefit 5K race for them. But talking to organizer Caren Barnes, it’s clear that Saturday’s event grew beyond anyone’s expectations.

Barnes said she had 106 runners pre-register, at $25 a head, for the race, which started at Blackberry Trails Pavilion in Montgomery. But she also signed up more than 40 runners that morning, bringing the total to around 150.

Volunteers from ADS, Old Second Bank and other local companies pitched in to make baked goods and sell them, and about 30 companies and individuals put together gift baskets for a silent auction. Volunteers from the Knights of Columbus pitched in.

The goal, Barnes said, was to put together this event without spending any money, so the Valdes family could have all of the proceeds. And they did it, she said. She specifically mentioned a donation from a Lisle company called Air Cycle – the company collected money from employees, and then matched it.

“The response has just been overwhelming,” she said.

Before the runners even took off on Saturday morning, the event had raised $5,400, Barnes said, and added more than $4,000 to it before the day was done.

That figure awed James and Christine, who were on hand Saturday with Abbie. Their daughter goes through three different types of therapy, multiple times a week, and the bills are still piling up. But James said this event could help them pay a good portion of what they owe.

“This is awesome,” he said. “We couldn’t have done this on our own. There are so many people involved with this.”

If you missed the race, you can still donate to the Valdes family. A benefit page has been set up at GiveForward.com, and will remain live through Friday. For more on the Valdes family, read .

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