By Kate Quesada

Every year, according to the American Heart Association, more than one million babies worldwide are born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Twelve years ago, FishHawk resident Josh Andre was one of them and now he is working hard to raise money to help kids like him.

On Sunday, October 23, the FishHawk Youth Baseball (FYB) organization is hosting the Heart Health Day Walk a community event at the FishHawk Youth Sports Complex featuring a one-mile walk around the facility, bounce houses, super slides and family fun including face painting and balloon animals, music, food and more.

According to Stefanie Goodwin, Assistant Fundraising Chair for FYB, this is the first in what they hope will be a trend of semi-annual community events intended to bring the community together and raise funds for important causes.

“We decided recently that we want to have some sort of charitable event every season for a different cause and this charity was an easy first choice as it is personal to one of our own,” said Goodwin, who also has a 12-year-old son who plays with FYB.

All proceeds from the event will be split between FYB and Andre’s American Heart Association team Strike Out CHD.

Andre’s mother, Stephanie Andre is also FYB Communications Chair and has been very involved in putting the event together.

“For years we have been participating in the American Heart Association’s Tampa area Heart Walk which takes place in September,” said Andre. “And when we started thinking about putting on an event with FYB this seemed like a great fit. The Tampa Walk is getting so big and with so many people wanting to walk on Josh’s team an event that is local and easier to get to would be wonderful.”

Although the event will feature baseball related activities like home run derbies for both kids and adults, a pitching contest and a coach dunking area, another reason Goodwin and Andre are excited about the walk is the way it will showcase the FishHawk Youth Sports Complex and all the sports it hosts.

“This community space is so unique,” said Goodwin. “The walk will take participants around the whole complex showcasing the facilities for all the sports. We really don’t want this just to be about baseball and hope people will participate no matter what their family is interested in.”

Tickets for the walk are $5 in advance and $10 at the event and are available at the baseball concession stand and on-line at fishhawkyouthbaseball.org for an additional $1.50 service fee. Plans are also underway for a community spirit night at Cherry’s in FishHawk’s Park Square on October 12, which will offer ticket specials and other fun activities. Sponsors for the event include Dick’s Sporting Goods, OneBlood (Florida Blood Bank), Play It Again Sports, Starbucks, Wee Rentals, Aguiar Photography and The Hitting Academy.

“We are hoping this will be the beginning of an exciting community tradition,” said Goodwin. “We want to offer people an additional reason to get out of their houses, do something fun and appreciate what we have.”

For more information on the walk, call 850-9965, visit www.fishhawkyouthbaseball.org or Andre’s Website at www.strikeoutchd.org. The FishHawk Youth Sports Complex is located at 16120 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia.