For five years almost everybody at The Haskins Co., Inc., has been “helping young hearts one step at a time.”

Brian Haskins, president of the Augusta, Ga.-based distribution company, serves on the board of directors of Heart and Sole Foundation. He, along with his father Roland Haskins and stepmother Carol, company CEO and vice president respectively, are involved in the activities Heart and Sole sponsors to raise money and also help increase awareness of children’s heart disease.

Heart and Sole, a non-profit organization, was founded five years ago by Brian’s sister Stacey Haskins, in memory of their niece, Bowen McElreath, who died of a heart condition at just 13 days old. So far, more than $140,000 has been raised by the foundation.

“Heart and Sole gave us, as a family, an opportunity to take something very tragic and turn it into something that helps so many other children and their families,” says Brian.

Heart and Sole hosts three major events each year: a 5K walk/run held in March; a social event held on the same evening as the walk/run; and a fashion event featuring internationally renowned designers held during the Masters Golf Tournament week in April.

Brian participates in all of the foundation’s events, both behind the scenes and in the events themselves.

“I think people who attend and support the events see the interest and dedication that people have to the cause,” says Brian. “Getting people involved in the events has a much greater impact than just asking them to open their checkbooks.”

This year, there were nearly 1,000 participants in the 5K walk/run.

“It is one of the largest events of its kind in the state,” says Brian.

The ‘Evening Celebration’ event, which takes place the night of the 5K walk/run, was created for both the 5K participants, as well as those who are not able to be physically active. Money is raised from ticket sales.

“We have more than 450 attendees and a tremendous amount of support from local businesses, including our customers,” says Brian.
Two years ago, Stacey, who works in the fashion industry, started the “Heart Fore Fashion” event.

“It’s a New York- and Paris-style fashion event in which well-known designers participate. The event is held during Masters week, so wives of the Masters Tournament players can attend and support the event,” says Brian. “Normally it’s for the ladies, but I help with the logistics and participate behind the scenes.”

The tickets are limited to 100 and available by invitation only.

Heart and Sole supports pediatric cardiology research at MCG Health Children’s Medical Center in Augusta, including the sponsorship of lectureships and fellowships; a general fund that supports requests from families that are directly related to pediatric cardiology; and “Camp Strong Heart,” which is a camp for children with special heart conditions, held on a summer weekend in the Augusta area, at no charge to the attendees. An average of 35 children attend Camp Strong Heart each year.

“One of the things that we want people to be aware of is that nobody ever knows that they need pediatric cardiology services until they’re actually in the situation. Kids with special hearts are born all the time,” says Brian. “Through Heart and Sole getting the word out about kids with heart conditions, families can see, ‘now my child has a chance,’ if it ever happens to them.”