Hope for broken hearts

When Adam Armiger (’07) was 10 years old, his sister Hope Marietta was born with a congenital heart defect.  During her first two weeks of life, she endured two open-heart surgeries. But that wasn’t enough. Her tiny heart couldn’t be fixed. Hope died as a result of her broken heart.

Hope Marietta Armiger was not alone. According to the March of Dimes, some 35,000 children are born every year with structural heart defects ranging from the undiagnosed to the catastrophic. Many children are not even aware of the condition and lead normal lives; others discover it later. But many infants born with damaged hearts require immediate and significant intervention and care.

Adam Armiger understands this and has taken steps to help.

More than a decade after losing his sister, Adam founded the Hope Marietta Foundation to keep her memory alive and to raise both funds and awareness of congenital heart defects. According to the foundation’s website, CHDs claim the lives of twice as many children as all childhood cancers combined, yet funding for research amounts to only one fifth of what it is for cancer. The Hope Marietta Foundation supports research through contributions to the Children’s Heart Foundation, the only organization created to exclusively fund congenital heart defect research.

But the Hope Marietta Foundation does much more. Adam, a College of Business graduate who works as an analyst with CW Capital Asset Management in Northern Virginia, knows firsthand the difficulties faced by families struggling with  heart defects. The foundation supports these families — and they have fun doing so, raising funds and visibility with events as varied as casino nights to skeeball tourneys to stockings and cold beer.

The Hope Marietta Foundation has a distinctive JMU feel. Co-founder and legal counsel for the organization is Sean Wainwright (’06), an international affairs graduate who went on to earn a law degree from Rutgers University. He is an account executive for a startup floral service out of Manhattan, now operating in D.C.  Also working with the foundation is Kerrin Delaney (’07), a communications studies graduate who directs brand development for the foundation. She is corporate marketing director for Amphora Group, a successful and award-winning food service company consisting of gourmet catering, European style bakeries and local, national and international fare restaurants.

Together Adam, Sean, Kerrin and scores of dedicated friends are keeping Hope Marietta’s memory alive — and changing lives along the way.

To learn more about the Hope Marietta Foundation, go to their website: http://www.hopemariettafoundation.org/

You can also follow the foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

And here’s an interview with founder Adam Armiger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoLDMFU7mDo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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