Clifton resident Terri Grabb said she and her husband, Travis, decided to organize a fund-raising footrace so that other parents of children with congenital heart defects would not have to go through what they endured during their son's surgeries. It is also a way to memorialize their son, Corbin, who died last June, shortly after his second birthday.
Corbin's Fun Run is Saturday, July 21, at Burke Lake Park and the deadline for registration is July 3. The majority of the proceeds from the race will be donated to the Children's National Medical Hospital in Washington, D.C., and the rest will go to Inova Fairfax Hospital's Tender Hearts support group for parents of children with congenital heart defects. The medical center has recently taken on a surgeon who specializes in the types of operations which Corbin required and is opening a cardiac intensive care unit, said Grabb.
However, at the time when Corbin needed surgery, "there were only three hospitals available on the East Coast that would operate on our son," she said. All were out of state. Grabb said she and her husband decided on the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan because her sister lived near the facility.
"I think the hardest thing for me was having to leave my children," she said, noting that she and her husband were away for five months during their son's first series of surgeries, and three and a half months during the second series, while their three older sons stayed with friends and relatives. On their return, the family had to "learn to be a family again," she said.
According to the American Heart Association, congenital heart defects — structural problems with the heart present at birth — are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of infant deaths from birth defects.
"Everybody assumes that our hospitals are able to care for these children and they can't," said Grabb.
Diane James, a friend of Grabb's, who helped organize the race, said that the event was timed to coincide with Corbin's birthday, which would have been the day before the run. The five-mile race will begin at 8 a.m. and the one-mile run/walk will follow at 8:10 a.m., said James. Both will begin at the park's Picnic Shelter A.
Advance registration costs $25 for adults and $10 for children of ages 6 to 17 and is free for children 5 and under. Registration will cost slightly more on the day of the race, said James, although she noted that the July 3 deadline may be pushed back. She added that any runner who raises $100 in sponsorships will be admitted for free. Registration is available online on the Web site www.corbinsfunrun.net, where donations can also be made and donation collection forms can be downloaded.
Following the race, a raffle will be held with prizes including Potomac Nationals tickets, jewelry, various gift certificates, gift baskets and other prizes. Those raising $100 or more in sponsorships will also be entered into the raffle free of charge.
It was Hope Schaaf, Grabb's friend and neighbor, who suggested the idea of holding a race. Schaaf said she knew a Chantilly couple who started an annual run in memory of their son, who died of leukemia at age 4.
"It's so easy for people to pretend [Corbin] never lived, and I knew Terri and Travis didn't want that," she said. "They didn't want him to be forgotten."
All of the Corbin's Fun Run organizers plan to make the race an annual event.