Young hearts run free

As children, our worlds revolved around ourselves and our own personal experiences. But one local 11 year old boy has looked beyond his own wants to honor the needs of his own little sister and other children like her.

Aidan Welch, of Muncy, recently began a fundraising venture to support the Children’s Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization benefiting children with congenital heart defects (CHD) – something his own little sister has battled since birth.

“I started (raising money) because of my little sister and I tried to find a way to give back to other kids who have the same disability that she has,” Welch said.

Welch raised money for CHD during the month of February, also known as American Heart Month. His goal was to raise $500 by Feb. 28, and he ended up raising more than $700. With the help of his mother, Katie Dgien, Welch created a website, where visitors could donate to his cause, explaining his goal and why he was raising the money.

“What’s on (the website) is an area where it tells you a little bit of information about Children’s Heart Foundation and tells a bit about (my sister) and her heart defect and it has all of the people’s names who have donated to me,” Welch said.

He also put special notes in his classmates’ boxes for Valentine’s Day to ask for donations.

“We had a Valentine party (at school) so I made up little cards and I gave them out to people … and my mom helped me make an account on her Facebook so other people could donate online,” he said.

Dgien said after Welch distributed his valentines, he received some donations, not only from parents but also from students in his class.

“I’m very proud of him and he’s very excited every time I say we got another email (donation),” Dgien said. “He really put a lot of thought into the whole system in naming the fundraiser and the website and the valentines he did.”

Welch didn’t stop at just raising money for CHD – he wanted to do more. He said if he reached his fundraising goal, he also wanted to run six miles – one mile for each of the six major surgeries his sister has gone through.

“It’s pretty cool that an 11-year-old is willing to run farther than he ever has before,” Dgien said, adding that in the past, he has participated in five 5K events and one mud run.

Welch plans to run on the bike path, beginning at Market Street and ending at Wendy’s in Montoursville.

A few of his family members are planning to take turns running portions of the six miles with him, but Welch is in it for the long haul.

“It makes me feel good that I’m helping (children with CHD), but I just did it to help others and it makes me feel good and hopefully it makes others feel the same way,” he said.

To view Welch’s website, visit