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BY AUDRIE GARRISON
GOSHEN -- Barrett Younghans still goes to baseball practice every day, "helping out where I can."
He's still on the team, and he's at every game. But the 17-year-old Goshen High School junior can't play ball anymore. He found out in December that he needs a new heart.
Younghans has cardiomyopathy, which literally means "heart muscle disease." It weakens the heart's pumping function and can cause arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death.
Younghans said he's received a lot of support and encouragement since he was diagnosed, and on Saturday, the Parrot Heads in Michiana and the Goshen community will show their support for him over breakfast. The social and charitable organization is putting all proceeds from its fifth annual benefit pancake breakfast toward a heart transplant for Barrett.
While health insurance will cover 90 percent of the procedure, the total cost is about $1.5 million, said Barry Younghans, Barrett's father, who works as a Goshen Community Schools administrator.
The family didn't know about Barrett's condition until they took a trip to Disney World late last year. Barrett slept in the same room as his parents, and they noticed he had trouble breathing at night. His mother, Lisa, insisted he visit a doctor in Florida, who told the family he probably had asthma. He followed up with his family doctor, who said he needed to go to the hospital.
Barry said Barrett went to a hospital in Indianapolis on Dec. 6. By Dec. 7, the family already was talking to doctors about a heart transplant. He's been on the transplant list since Jan. 1.
Barrett has no idea when he'll receive the transplant -- he said he'll receive a call when a heart is ready and will need to go to the hospital right away.
He is the fifth area child heart transplant patient the Parrot Heads in Michiana have helped out. Carey Bert, president of the local organization, said the Parrot Heads work with the Children's Organ Transplant Association to identify a local child to support. But Bert said a member of the organization knew the elder Younghans from work and suggested the Parrot Heads raise money for the Younghans this year.
Bert said the annual breakfasts usually raise $3,000 or $4,000, but it depends on the size of the family's support network. He said the Younghans are connected in the community and seem to have a lot of support.
"I think it's going to be a big, big fundraiser," Bert said. "I'm thinking it's going to be the biggest one we've had, hopefully."
The breakfast is from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill off of U.S. 33. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased either at the door or in advance at Indiana Community Bank, 511 W. Lincoln Ave., or at www.parrotheadsinmichiana.org. Bert said breakfast includes pancakes, bacon or sausage and juice, milk and coffee. The Applebee's staff will cook the meal.
Anyone who wants to contribute but can't make the breakfast can give to an account set up at Indiana Community Bank. Checks can be made payable to "FBO Barrett Younghans."
IF YOU GO
What: Parrot Heads in Michiana fundraising breakfast benefiting Barrett Younghans
When: 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill, U.S. 33, Goshen
Tickets: $7 each and can be purchased at the door or in advance at Indiana Community
Bank, 511 W. Lincoln Ave., or at www.parrotheadsinmichiana.org.
What else: Additional donations can be made by writing a check addressed to "FBO Barrett Younghans" in an account at Indiana Community Bank, 511 W. Lincoln Ave.