Eight-month-old Kian Moss was born with a broken heart. But the Naples community is coming together and organizing two fundraisers to help mend the little boy with the huge smile that could easily break others’ hearts.
Golden Gate Estates residents Danielle and Zach Moss were told their first-born child had a heart defect in utero, and they discovered he had more arterial malformations at about a week old. His rare heart condition is known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS, a rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart fails to develop properly. According to the March of Dimes, about one in every 125 babies born in the United States each year will have a congenital heart defect. It is one of the most common of all birth defects occurring while the baby is developing in utero.
Kian also does not have a spleen, so he is required to take antibiotics for the first five years of his life. His mother can barely take Kian outside, as the risk is a chance of infection.
As a result of his heart condition, Kian must undergo three rounds of open heart surgery within the next year to give him a better chance at survival.
But there is a positive angle to Kian’s story. All is not lost. Not at all, in fact.
The family is planning to fly to California for the first heart surgery, tentatively scheduled for December, to correct the bloodflow through Kian’s heart. The Moss family currently commutes from Naples to Miami Children’s Hospital to monitor his heart until the surgery is performed.
Furthermore, an outpouring of support from the community continues to grow each day. And the organizers of two upcoming fundraisers hope many others turn out to help Kian and his family afford the lifesaving surgeries and long flights needed to get them to California.
Volunteers from a local Woodmen of the World chapter, a fraternal group that helps others in times of need and offers life insurance options to its members, is one of the leading organizations that has come to the table to help.
The first fundraiser will be a garage sale in Golden Gate Estates on Nov. 6, and the second fundraiser will be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, food entertainment, and a Chinese auction at the Florida Sports Park on Nov. 13.
“We’ve collected furniture, clothing appliances, stoves, refrigerators, dishwasher, and many tools that are going into the fundraiser,” said Billy Ludlow, who is spearheading the events along with his wife, Elissa, Darrell Fairless, Mike and Debbie Lee, and Judy and Mike Frye, along with many Woodmen of the World members.
Billy Ludlow is a building construction contractor by trade, so many of his clients in Naples have been continuing to donate to Kian’s cause in the weeks leading up to the garage sale. Cub Scouts from Pack 2002 will also be on hand to help move items to cars and assist with purchases at the garage sale.
A similar life crisis immediately brought the Ludlows closer to the Moss family.
“I wanted to get involved with Kian, because of what (the Woodmen of the World) did for us,” said Elissa Ludlow from her Golden Gate Estates home. At the age of 52, her husband suffered supraventricular tachycardia three years ago, and both the Ludlows found themselves without work as Billy Ludlow fought for his life.
“We could barely afford his heart meds without insurance, and (the Woodmen) did a fundraiser for us to get us through it,” Elissa Ludlow said. “When we saw what the fundraisers were all about, it opened up our eyes and our hearts.”
Mike Lee, president of the local Woodmen chapter, worked to organize some of the upcoming events for Kian and credits the Ludlows for rallying the community to support Kian.
“The Ludlows have gone above and beyond to help out,” he said of the two-tiered fundraiser.
The second event will take place at the Florida Sports Park, where a $5 donation will get families a dinner of a hot dog, hamburger, potato salad, baked beans and dessert. Donations from Porkies, Costco and Sweetbay provided plenty of food for this upcoming auction and community gathering.
“There will also be local musical talent providing music and dancing throughout the evening,” Mike Lee said. “Those who cannot attend the fundraisers can also make a donation in Kian’s name at any TIB Bank in Naples.”
Danielle Moss tends to her son’s medical needs around the clock, and is grateful to local Woodsmen for their efforts and phone calls to show care and concern to her family.
“We’re tremendously grateful to them, not only for what they gave us in raising the money, but for all aspects of care coming up before this surgery,” she said. “We’re grateful, blessed and humbled by the outpouring of support.”
- - -
If You Go -- garage sale:
When: Saturday, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. until everything is sold out
Where: 555 Lancewood Way, Naples
If You Go -- Kian Moss fundraising benefit:
When: Saturday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m. until midnight
Where: Florida Sports Park, 8250 Collier Blvd., Naples
Call Elissa Ludlow for more information at 777-6310.