Dublin Villager

Neelys know well the good golf outing, Children's provide

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Two-year-old Avery Neely was the Heart Warrior honored at Hull's annual golf fundraiser for Kinder Key and the Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Next month Avery Neely will undergo her third open heart surgery.

The 2-year-old from Lewis Center didn't show any worries about the upcoming surgery last week as she held court at Hull's Charity Memorial Golf Outing that raised $57,000 for Kinder Key and the Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The annual golf outing, organized by the Dublin-based project development and engineer consulting firm, has raised more than $236,000 for nonprofits, in its 14 years.

"We used to have a golf outing for entertainment, but thought we should shift the focus to something better than going out and golfing," said Craig Kasper, Hull CEO.

"In the early days we were making phone calls to see who wanted to golf, but now it's more progressive.

"We have a large giving forward program."

The day still includes golfing and prizes, but now the event works towards raising money for Kinder Key, which in turn helps fund items at the Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"We're so fortunate that they chose us as the recipient of the proceeds," said Lauren Smith of Kinder Key.

She said the money will be put towards items the Heart Center needs most, including "home monitoring systems that patients take home with them after surgery."

"They're very expensive and being able to provide those is so important," Smith said.

The event also gave Hull employees a chance to meet Kinder Key's latest Heart Warrior: Avery, a giggling little girl who loves purple, pizza, playing with her dolls and Legos.

Trent and Joann Neely found out before Avery was born that something was wrong with her heart.

Appointments at Nationwide Children's Hospital gave them a diagnosis: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare disorder that left Avery with an undeveloped left side of the heart.

"There's no cure," Trent said, "but through surgical intervention they can rework the plumbing to reutilize parts she does have."

The Neelys have spent plenty of time at the Heart Center.

Avery's first open-heart surgery was three days after birth. Her second came about four months later.

"It's so great to have Children's Hospital here," Mrs. Neely said.

"I didn't know about it before this. ... The way they've treated her, us and (Avery's sister) Ellery, they're like extended family," she said.

"They know the patients not just as a case, but as a person and a personality."

"We call it our inclusive resort," Trent added.

While having Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Heart Center in town has been great because of proximity, it's also helped because it employs some of the experts on the rare disorder from which Avery suffers.

"To see her thriving, it's all because of the progress made there," Joann said.

"We've decided she'll be part of a clinical trial after her surgery. I couldn't ask for anything better."

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