Bluegrass event will benefit young Sumter patient

3-year-old born with rare heart defect

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Roy Reaves loves bluegrass, and he has a big soft spot for children suffering from serious health conditions. He's found a way to combine the two, and on Saturday, Oct. 21, he'll do so again, hosting a fundraiser for Sumter resident Rosielyn McLeod. It will be the sixth such fundraiser Reaves has sponsored to help children in the community.

Rosielyn, 3, was born in 2014 with a heart defect called transposition of the greater arteries, which Mayo Clinic defines as " ... a serious but rare heart defect present at birth, in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed."

That means there is little oxygen from the heart to supply the rest of the body; the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle, while the aorta is joined to the right ventricle, meaning that oxygen-poor blood is pumped back out into the body without passing through the lungs. The disease is a serious health threat that can even result in death without corrective surgery.

When Rosielyn was just 11 days old, doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston performed open-heart surgery to correct the condition. Although the surgery was a success, Rosielyn has since been diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation, for which she must have another open-heart surgery.

With mitral valve regurgitation, the valve does not close tightly enough, allowing blood to flow in two directions when the left ventricle of the heart contracts. The more severe the blood leakage, the more enlarged the left ventricle becomes, causing increased pressure in the pulmonary veins. This, in turn, can cause fluid buildup in the lungs. Other conditions can also occur, causing irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation, which can even lead to blood clots and stroke.

Reaves has made it a mission to help young children with life-threatening health conditions, using his musical talent to raise funds for treatment. A guitarist and mandolin player with his band, High Ridge Bluegrass, Reaves also enlists the aid of other bluegrass and country bands.

He said all the bands participating in the Oct. 21 barbecue fundraiser are performing at no charge.

"When I asked them, they said 'sign me up,'" Reaves said. That means all proceeds will benefit Rosielyn, he said.

Performing during the noon-to-9 p.m. event will be High Ridge Bluegrass, J.D. & The Breeze, The Thomas Family from Columbia and other local bands, he said.

Reaves said barbecue, cooked by himself and friends, will be on sale all day for $9 a pound, $3 for sandwiches, and barbecued leg quarters and beverages will be available. Admission to the fundraiser at the Shrine Club on U.S. 15 South - corner of U.S. 15 South and Lewis Road - is $5. For more information, call Reaves at (803) 464-4492.