ROCKINGHAM — Some runners might allow a hole in their shoe to interrupt their normal routine of lacing up and heading out to log a few miles.
That wouldn’t be an issue for Heath Mew. After all, if a hole in his heart didn’t slow down the 5-year-old harrier, not much else will.
Heath, of Clio, S.C., joined 182 other runners and walkers for the inaugural Little Fun Run 1-mile and Big Fun Run 5K (3.1-mile) events at Discovery Place KIDS on Saturday in downtown Rockingham. Even if Heath stumbled, his family was there to catch him.
“He had open heart surgery when he was 2,” said Faith Mew, Heath’s grandmother. “His cardiologist said he could participate.”
Emily Mew, Heath Mew’s mother, said that Heath basically had a hole in his heart when he was younger.
“He’s a fighter though,” Emily Mew said. “After he had his surgery they said he would be in the hospital for seven to 10 days, but he came home after only four days. He still has some leakage, but he can play like any normal kid. He just has to take it easy from time to time.”
The family has been members of Discovery Place KIDS since it first opened. Heath found out about the race and eagerly wanted to participate. His dad, Dusty Mew, decided to join his son in the race despite the fact that he himself isn’t a runner.
“He’s always been athletic,” Dusty Mew said. “He’s been playing soccer and basketball. You wouldn’t know that he had surgery a few years ago.”
Even Heath’s 3-year-old brother, Jude Mew, was there rooting for him with the rest of the family. He quickly approached his brother after Heath Mew crossed the finish line. He smiled and laughed as he clung to his brother’s side.
“You know, it was pouring down rain when we left the house this morning,” Faith Mew said. “We didn’t care. We were going to be here for him.”
Heath Mew was red faced and out of breath as he crossed the finish line, but he was all smiles. He said he felt good and had a fun time participating in the run.
Katie Rohleder, director of Discovery Place KIDS, was thrilled to see the number of participants that showed up for the race.
“We have had such a great turn out,” Rohleder said. “It was much better than we expected considering the weather. We even had a lot of people register today.”
And Rohleder was right. The number of registered participants on Friday was at 140. By Saturday, another 43 participants had signed up for one of the two races.
“We’re really thrilled with the turn out,” Rohleder said. “Not bad for our first run.”