“He’s my little right-hand man”: Officer running 25K for his son and Mended Little Hearts

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IONIA, Mich. – One in every 110 babies is born with a heart defect, according to Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan. When Ionia Public Safety Officer Mike Cronk’s son was born with a heart defect, he said this organization helped his family pull through.

This is Officer Cronk’s second time running the 25K race in the upcoming Fifth Third River Bank Run in honor on his 10-year-old son, Matthew, who underwent heart surgery at a young age.

Now Cronk is training to support not only his health but other families who will go through what he and his family did.

“He’s my little right-hand man,” said Cronk.

He and Matthew made a YouTube video to share their story and raise money for Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan. Matthew was born with a congenital heart defect: doctors said he had a hole in his heart making it enlarged.

“Going to that doctor the first time, and finding out that one of the options is surgery, it was a quiet ride home,” said Cronk.

When he was younger, Matthew had open heart surgery, something he remembers little things from, like where doctors put stickers on his chest for EKG tests.

“I know that I put my child through a lot of pain, but I know it’s for his good,” said Cronk. “With the support it was definitely something we were able to get through, and something that I wouldn’t wish on any parent.”

But now, Cronk told FOX 17 his son is healthy. He thanks Mended Little Hearts for connecting his family with resources they needed.

“It could hit anybody that you know,” said Cronk. “You plan through it, you do it, you work out a good pregnancy, you do everything you can do right, but when it hits it hits, and where do you go? A program like this definitely gives you those resources and support quickly.”

Last year, Cronk raised more than $600 for Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan. This year he has two goals: to top the funds he raised last year, and to beat his 25K run time of 2:04 hours.

If you’re a family in need of medical resources, or would like to donate, go to mlhmi.org. To donate and contribute to Officer Cronk's fundraiser, go to the website and fill out the pledge form: click "MLH Runner Sponsor," then select Mike Cronk as your runner.

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