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American Heart Association collects sports balls for kids in eastern Kentucky

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Posted at 11:41 AM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 11:41:50-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Central Kentucky American Heart Association (AHA) is collecting sports balls until Friday, June 18, to encourage heart health for kids in eastern Kentucky who have been affected by the declining coal industry.

This effort titled "Bring a Ball to the Ball" is part of the Central Kentucky Heart Ball. The AHA partnered with Kentucky Children's Hospital and Cincinnati Children's Hospital for the collection.

"We want kids to be active so that they're heart-healthy," said Kentucky Children's Hospital Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Dr. Carl Backer. "Playing with balls in the playground is a lot better than being on your iPad. No offense to Apple or anything, but we want kids to be physically fit, physically active, and the balls is a way of encouraging them to do that."

Organizations affiliated with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) will receive the balls to distribute to kids with a lack of access to sports equipment. The American Heart Association said the 2021 collection will go to kids in 54 counties supported by SOAR.

Last year more than 100 sports balls went to Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education).

"Some kids, with the proper encouragement, will become true athletes. And you read stories about famous quarterbacks that came from tiny little towns and you know Mississippi or Kentucky or wherever, and if they had access to a sports equipment like the balls, they would be able to--that encourages them to get started. And who knows someday they could be, you know, Super Bowl winners," said Backer.

Athletic balls can be dropped off at the American Heart Association's Lexington office (354 Waller Ave., #110) until the end of business Friday.