Photos by Laura Meyer

A country western hoedown was held in February by Mend a Heart Foundation benefiting kids born with congenital heart defects. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Heartfest 2024 fundraiser benefit promising medical research, summer camp scholarships for heart kids, and high school cardiac screenings in the Chicagoland area.

Brian and Bridget O’Meara were inspired by their son, Liam, to start the Mend a Heart Foundation in 2007. Liam was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which meant that he was essentially missing half his heart. He has successfully undergone three reconstructive heart surgeries. To date, the foundation has raised more than $1.4 million toward causes that support its mission.