Dad celebrates with name on Heart

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A young dad is marking his first Fathers’ Day by having the names of his family engraved on the iconic Heart of Steel sculpture.

The 2.4 metre steel heart, which currently resides in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre is helping to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), by offering people the opportunity to have their names or the names of loved ones engraved in exchange for a donation.

Kirk Stephenson, 29, from Wakefield, has been fundraising for the BHF since last year. He and his wife Jess learned at their 20-week scan that their baby would be born with a congenital heart condition, called an atrial septal defect.

“When I first found out about our baby’s condition, I went straight online to find out as much as I could about it,” said Kirk.

“The British Heart Foundation had loads of information on their website, and I just thought it made sense to fundraise for them to make a difference to others in our situation.”

Kirk runs a CrossFit gym on the outskirts of Leeds, and completed a gruelling fundraising challenge based on his passion for fitness.

“I wore a weighted vest and did a CrossFit workout each week. The weight of the vest was based on the amount of weight Jess had put on at each week in the pregnancy.

“My last workout was with a weighted vest of nearly 30lbs! I take my hat off to any pregnant woman – it’s really exhausting doing the exercise with the extra weight – and I have the luxury of taking the vest of at the end of the session!”

With support from the close-knit CrossFit community, the couple raised over £3,000 for the BHF.

Kirk and Jess’ daughter Amber was born last November and although she needs close monitoring and regular heart scans, proud dad Kirk says she is thriving.

He said: “Amber is doing so well. She is happy and healthy, and I am loving being her dad! We went on our first family holiday earlier this year, which was great.

“Before she was born, I was so worried that we might not be able to do all the things that other families can, but we have been really lucky and so far Amber’s heart condition has not prevented us living life to the full!”

Kirk is excited about his first Fathers’ Day, and is keen to continue to help raise money for the BHF in honour of the occasion. He is now encouraging other families to donate to the BHF by having their names engraved on the Heart of Steel.

“I’m getting my name, as well as Jess’ and Amber’s, engraved on the sculpture, and I’ve been encouraging my colleagues and clients to do the same.”

He added: “It seems a fitting tribute to our family, which has been affected by heart disease directly, and I know that the donations will help the BHF support other families like us through life saving research.”

Nicola Jones, BHF Fundraising Manager for South and East Yorkshire said: “The Heart of Steel is a perfect way to pay tribute to your dad this Fathers’ Day, with a gift that will immortalise his name and help to support the British Heart Foundation.

“Whether, like Kirk, you and your family have been directly affected by heart and circulatory disease; or you simply want the opportunity to make a difference, an engraving is a wonderful way of showing how much your loved one means to you.”

Each engraving on the Heart of Steel sculpture helps the BHF to fund life saving research into heart and circulatory conditions, and their risk factors. To find out more about the Heart of Steel, visit: www.bhf.org.uk/heartofsteel