Harlequin More Than Words Winner Jodi Lemacks, Empowering Families of Kids with Congenital Heart Disease

The Harlequin More Than Words program aims to enhance the well-being of women by raising awareness about worthy causes that are of concern to women; providing financial assistance to these important charities; and engaging employees, authors, and readers and the general public in worthy causes and provide opportunities for them to make a difference. This week we will be sharing the stories of this year’s three Harlequin More Than Words winners, who each receive a $15,000 donation to her chosen cause. For more information about the program, please visit www.harlequinmorethanwords.com

Name: Jodi Lemacks Jodi Lemacks

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Recipient’s Related Charity: Mended Little Hearts (MLH)

How Jodi inspires others:

 Although Mended Hearts, Inc. has been around since 1951, acting as a support group for patients who suffer from congenital heart disease (CHD), it wasn’t until they realized that kids with heart defects have different needs than adults that they created an offshoot organization known as Mended Little Hearts in 2004 to deal with the unique challenges faced by the families of children with CHD.

Unfortunately, it was one year before MLH’s inception that Jodi Lemacks and her family faced the scariest period of their lives alone and unsure of where to turn for help…

In 2003, Jodi and her husband were devastated when they were told that their third son, Joshua, had been born with a severe heart defect requiring three separate surgeries—one that very first day and two more by age three. Jodi remembers just how lost and isolated she felt back then. Though Joshua pulled through—and survived his two subsequent surgeries to live a normal childhood—Jodi knows just how lucky they were to make it through that difficult time.

Determined to prevent other families from undergoing that same ordeal alone, Jodi left a burgeoning law career to volunteer at the nascent Mended Little Hearts program in central Virginia, before eventually being hired for the national staff in 2007 and becoming MLH’s national program director.

MLH’s main goal is to help families of children with CHD connect with other families for support, either online or in person. With over eighty groups in the United States and Mexico, and over ten thousand MLH members, connecting these families with others lets them know that others have experienced the same issues and survived.

Other beneficial services Jodi helps organize include arranging educational webinars, providing in-hospital services, acting as advocates for families, fund-raising and raising awareness of CHD as the most common birth defect in the United States.

But Jodi knows better than anyone that, for an organization that is almost 100% voluntary, providing the range of services and support they do is only possible through hard work and dedication from everyone involved. “When the people we’re trying to help let us know that we’ve made a real difference to what they’re going through, it means the world to know that we matter to them. And when they want to give back to help others, that makes all the difference…”

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Comments ( 16 )
  1. Loura Stephenson
    August 5, 2016 at 4:54 am
    Reply

    Great thing to do!

    • shelly
      August 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm
      Reply

      wonderful thing to do

    • Wilma Aguilar
      August 7, 2016 at 7:36 pm
      Reply

      awesome

  2. Bonnie Capuano
    August 5, 2016 at 9:55 am
    Reply

    I really like the fund raising part. It has got to be a real struggle for so many people.

    • Wilma Aguilar
      August 7, 2016 at 7:37 pm
      Reply

      way cool

  3. carole fiore
    August 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm
    Reply

    what a wonderful way to help families that need it!

  4. Tara
    August 6, 2016 at 11:23 am
    Reply

    Great idea!

  5. Kim
    August 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm
    Reply

    My daughter was born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery when she was 3 months old. Scariest time of my life. (((hugs))) and support to all other families that face this. My daughter”s heart pediatricians group has a summer camp, Dreams from the Heart, which allows children with heart issues who normally wouldn’t be allowed in camps to experience the joys of camping. The doctors and nurses donate their time and money each year and all kids go for free.

  6. Lissa
    August 6, 2016 at 4:26 pm
    Reply

    Wonderful

  7. Marisa Rodriguez
    August 6, 2016 at 6:06 pm
    Reply

    There aren’t enough compassionate people in the world.
    It takes a strong heart and empathy to go above and beyond with any endeavor you choose to complete.
    Mended Little Hearts is a fascinating charity and I thank GOD for all the angels he has put on Earth like Jodi Lemacks.
    Bless you!

  8. Dixie
    August 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm
    Reply

    Thanks

  9. lori
    August 7, 2016 at 6:54 pm
    Reply

    great thing to do

  10. florinda
    August 7, 2016 at 6:59 pm
    Reply

    Very enlightening article. Didn’t realize there were that many young children dealing with such a serious illness. A very informative article that can help parents that find themselves in a similar situation with their child.

  11. christina
    August 7, 2016 at 9:17 pm
    Reply

    awesome work

  12. toska
    August 8, 2016 at 4:20 am
    Reply

    great work

  13. samantha diell
    August 9, 2016 at 9:28 am
    Reply

    That’s awesome.

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