Where the Heart Is: Vivian’s Victory, Cincinnati Ohio

February 27, 2017 7:00 pm by Kritzia Santos

Sharing the love with moms in the Special Care OB and the families in the NICU at Good Samaritan Hospital today! At “Vivian’s Victory”, we are so thankful to be a part of the journey of love and courage we experience with the families and children we meet! (Source: ViviansVictory Facebook)

This week, Where the Heart Is brings us an extraordinary story  of a mother and her family all the way from Cincinnati Ohio, USA. This story will warm your heart, teaching us that no matter what challenges we may face, there is always  something good that can come out of it.

I met and lived with Maria Lees Dunlap ten years ago when we were both Missionaries for the Regnum Christi Movement In Atlanta, Georgia (about: Regnum Christi Missionary Corps). I fondly remember such amazing memories and how she would always be so thoughtful, caring and would always go by the saying of Saint Augustine, “Just love and do what you will.”  A decade later, I was able to visit her again and her family (husband Rod, 3-year-old Iris, 2-year-old Fulton, 1-year-old Auggie and a baby to be expected any day). What’s most interesting though, is what Dunlap now does for a living.

Dunlap is the founder and Executive Director of Vivian’s Victory.wheretheheartis-viviansvictory4

In her office as the Executive Director for Vivians Victory: Here, Dunlap is actively planning for the ball and excitedly waiting for her fifth baby on the way

Vivian’s Victory is a non-profit charity dedicated to providing support, programs, and resources to parents of children with a poor pre-natal health diagnosis or a prolonged illness, not only during their hospital stay but during and after their transition back home. Vivian’s Victory believes no child should fight alone and no parent should choose between their child and “life” (source: Vivian’s Victory)

In 2012, Dunlap gave birth to their first child, Vivian, prenatally diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), and diagnosed with a chromosomal defect, Turner’s Syndrome, after birth. Both parents found themselves in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for a total of fifty nine days before Vivian went to heaven. Despite their grief, the couple felt blessed and grateful to so many generous hearts that helped them during this time with emotional support and even monetary donations and the many other kinds of support they got during such a difficult time.

While at the CICU ,the couple saw many other families that needed extra support while they were battling with their babies’ health situation. Because of their gratitude, love and determination to do something positive after Vivian went to heaven, they used the money left over from the fundraising to set up a non-profit organization called Vivian’s Victory.

To date, Vivian’s Victory has already been able to support close to five hundred families at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati,with babies who need long term hospital care.These families are tangibly supported by providing their needs; gas cards, paying monthly rentals for homes, providing families with cars or help with transport, and many other ways.  To read more stories on Vivian’s Kids, the many children Vivian’s Victory was able to reach,click here.wheretheheartis-viviansvictory6

An excerpt from Dunlap’s FB page “As I was saying good night to Iris last night, the last thing she said to me was, “when I love more, my heart grows Mommy.” As much as I have been anxiously (and not a good kind of anxious) anticipating the arrival of this new baby, my 3-year old’s words of wisdom have reminded me, it’s not necessarily going to be easy, but there is a lot of love this crazy group has to give” 

Dunlap says that sometimes the Charity is able to help families in exceptional ways. In one case, the father worked a long way from home in a different state and wanted to visit his wife and baby every weekend. Instead of gas cards, Vivian’s Victory was able to raise funds to buy air miles for the family so the father wouldn’t need to drive fifteen hours each week and could fly instead, so this enabled him to  spend much more time with his wife and child, and this is just one of the many heart-warming stories Dunlap shared with me.wheretheheartis-viviansvictory5

Here is just one of the many letters Vivian’s Victory was able to receive from many grateful families

Vivian’s Victory has continued to raise funds to fulfill and widen its charitable objectives with the support of amazing volunteer fundraisers and  generous donations both from individuals and from corporations.

There are two major fund raising events held each year. Every March, the Charity hosts a Masquerade Evening Ball and Charity Auction, and every July it holds the annual Vivian Victory’s Charity Run.

The charity benefits from numerous sponsors who support them in all kinds of ways.Just one example is a donation of four tickets, worth US$ 1,710, for a Cincinnati Cavaliers basketball game.

To date there is no other non-profit charity doing this kind of work in the USA.wheretheheartis-viviansvictory

Dunlap with Vivian’s Victory’s volunteers meeting and planning for the March Annual Ball – many of them volunteer because they were touched by Vivian’s story and has been inspired by the work the non-profit does 

Her life may have lasted for only fifty nine days but Vivian’s memory and legacy continues to live on in the hearts of the Dunlap family and in the countless people, who have been helped and supported by Vivian’s Victory.

Truly, the Dunlaps are an example and true inspiration for us all to do “small things with great love.”

To support and see how you can further get to know Vivian’s Victory, visit the social pages and see all the good they’re doing.

“Where the Heart Is” is a special feature of Taste.Company that aims to show you, our readers,that there is kindness and magic in each and every soul, and that there are exemplary hearts everywhere. It is a weekly publication in partnership with Nassa/Caritas Philippines and Anchored Philippines.

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