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Montana nonprofit hosting run to help families living with heart conditions

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 22, 2024

A Montana nonprofit is hosting a run on June 1 to raise money for families who have young children battling serious heart conditions.

The nonprofit is called the Montana Bravehearts, which was created by Kayleen Shultz after her daughter was born with a heart condition, and she was flown to Denver for care.

Shultz wanted to create an environment of Montana parents who were dealing with similar situations. She collected donations so that they could provide families with care packages during their long hospital stays.

The goal was to help families like the Tallons, who found out their second son, Lenox, had a heart condition when he was 18 days old.

"Our whole world kind of tipped upside down," said Lenox's mother, Demi Tallon. "We had no idea and had a healthy pregnancy and everything."

Instead, that routine birth turned into a nightmare.

"He started crying and then stopped and just went limp in my arms," Demi said. "(My husband) said, 'What do we do?' and I said, 'Call 9-1-1.'"

Demi's husband, Zach, said the shocking moment of their son losing his breath was difficult to process.

"When it first happened, we had no idea what to do or what to even expect," Zach said. "He went white and then went limp and quit breathing. You don't really know what to think at that point."

Lenox was rushed to the hospital by the family, where he needed to be resuscitated twice before receiving his diagnosis.

"We went to the hospital and found out he had a heart condition, so it was all just kind of a blur," Demi said. "They decided to send us to Denver that day."

Lenox was flown by helicopter to Denver for more treatment. During her stay, Demi received a care package from Montana Bravehearts and met Shultz for the first time. It was a gesture that Zach said meant a lot during a difficult time.

"It was awesome," Zach said. "Just to have people that experience the same things we did and had the same trauma and knew how to handle it was awesome."

Lenox is now nearly nine months old and is doing much better. The Tallon family is heavily involved in the Montana Bravehearts, working alongside Shultz and her grandmother Babe Goggins.

Goggins, 93, is donating her land on the Vermilion Ranch near Shepherd as the host site for the second annual run fundraiser for the program.

"I can't do much anymore at my age, but I really do want to help," Goggins said. "This is a really good cause."

And the Tallons couldn't be more grateful — both for their son and the nonprofit that helped them so much.

"I mean he's still here," Zach said. "Just the fact that he didn't die. Compared to what he is then, to what he is now, is 100% different."