Patrick pedals hard for Kids@Heart

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 08:14 29/11/2013
Patrick walsh
STRONG BOY: Patrick Walsh, 6, still manages to smile despite regular trips to Starship hospital.

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Patrick Walsh is only young but he's training to conquer a pretty big journey.

The 6-year-old was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect when he was 3 but despite his condition will put pedal to the metal at this weekend's Kids@Heart Ride.

The 5km ride takes place around the edge of Lake Taupo tomorrow.

Patrick's mother Melanie says her son's heart condition means he often finds physical activity difficult but he always gives things a go.

"He doesn't have much endurance. It's hard for a little 6-year-old who wants to be running around with all the other boys," she says.

But the Glen Eden resident has a strong network of supporters behind him.

Both his parents and siblings Alec, 11, and Elise, 8, will join him for the ride.

@Heart supports children born with congenital heart defects throughout their entire lives.

The organisation also helps children who develop heart conditions as a result of illnesses such as rheumatic fever and other heart complications.

Patrick's condition means his heart is enlarged and its valves don't work properly.

One of the valves is in the wrong place and his heart is also beating too fast.

It means he has regular visits to Starship hospital and will require checkups for the rest of his life.

The bike ride is part of the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and each year @Heart enters a team of heart kids and siblings from around the country to create awareness about heart defects in children.

The Walsh family hope to raise $1500 for @Heart before the event and has received more than $1100 in donations from their kind-hearted supporters so far.

The family is the only Auckland participants in the event and is lucky to have trained with New Zealand sportswoman and radio host Hayley Holt at Western Springs Park.

Ms Holt will also ride alongside them on Saturday.

Mrs Walsh says the help and support the family receives from @Heart while Patrick is in hospital is invaluable.

"@Heart has connected us with other heart families going through similar journeys.

"It's amazing to feel as though we're not alone because it's such an awful time when your child is in pain and the outcomes are never clear," she says.

@Heart chief executive Lorraine Warshaw says the event has been running since 2005.

More than 40 @Heart children along with their families and friends will take part.

"We wanted to highlight our children and give them the opportunity to ride in a big event. They feel so excited riding 5km and it really builds their self-confidence," she says.

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The ride will start at 3pm at Rainbow Point and will end with a prizegiving where the child who has raised the most money will be given a new bike.

Visit heartnz.org.nz for more information or everyday hero.com and search Patrick's Pedal Power Team to donate.

- Western Leader

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