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Schools raise funds for girl's heart surgery

BUFORD -- One little girl's enlarged heart is bringing the Mill Creek cluster of schools together.

Grace Callahan, a 6-year-old student at Ivy Creek Elementary, is the daughter of Doug and Audrey Callahan, math teachers at Jones Middle School and Mill Creek High School, respectively. She's in need of a heart transplant, and the three schools have put together a charity basketball game for her family's benefit.

"A lot of it is just bringing our community together to support one of our own, to show them we're out here for (Grace)," said Trisha Taylor, a colleague of Audrey Callahan and the unofficial Mill Creek coordinator for the project. "We've found a lot of people are relating to it, because they have kids and because of these tough economic times."

The "Goals for Grace" game, to be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Mill Creek High, will be a matchup between faculty and staff from Ivy Creek, Jones and Mill Creek. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at all three schools this week, as well as at the game.

All proceeds go to the Grace Callahan "Hearts for Grace" Fund.

"I don't know how I'd be able to come to school and teach every day," Taylor said. "But they've figured out a system to get done what they need to get done, and we're trying to help out."

Grace Callahan was diagnosed with dilated cardiomypathy (an enlarged heart) when she was just 11 days old, and most doctors thought she wouldn't make it past her first birthday without a transplant. Medications helped her defy initial expectations, but Grace is currently in the hospital hoping for a transplant, "waiting for death to bring life," Taylor said.

Those unable to attend the event are encouraged to buy tickets anyway. Contributions can also be made through the "Grace Callahan Transplant Fund" at the People's Bank & Trust at 1899 Buford Highway in Buford. PayPal donations can also be made to douglas.j.callahan@gmail.com.

"It's been amazing," Taylor said, "because we're all complete strangers coming together for this great cause."