Sparta UNICO golf outing raises $17,750 for two-year-old with heart condition

Sparta. The outing was held at Ballyowen Golf Course will help the family of “Liam the Lion” Feeney, who has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, pay for ongoing medical treatments.

Sparta /
| 16 Feb 2021 | 03:46

Sparta UNICO’s annual Charity Golf Outing raised $15,750 to help the Feeney family with medical bills. Their two-year-old, “Liam the Lion” Feeney, has been through six operations for hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Every year Sparta UNICO looks to its local community for a child who is enduring a serious illness and provides financial support to families whose children are undergoing costly treatments.

Members, friends, and local businesses chipped in to sponsor the event, attend, or donate money and items to this charitable cause. The outing was held at Ballyowen Golf Course at Crystal Springs and attended by 75 golfers on a beautiful day in October.

The outing is held in memory of Jack Schaaf, a dedicated and tireless member who taken too soon by brain cancer.

“My sincere thanks for all the work and time that was given from our Sparta Chapter members who are so dedicated to the growth, purpose and continued success of UNICO National,” said Ray Shupak, president of Sparta UNICO. “See you all next year!”

Liam’s story

After trying for two years to have a baby, Kevin P. Feeney of Pequannock and Nicole (LePore) Feeney of Wantage sought out fertility treatments and were blessed with a pregnancy in December 2017.

In an April 2018 anatomy scan, they learned the gender of their baby, and that the baby had a life-threatening heart defect. After been given the option of termination, Nicole and Kevin sought out second and third opinions. Liam was officially diagnosed at 22 weeks gestation with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. If left untreated, the baby would have only hours or a few days to live.

From there, the couple sought out hospitals that could do the surgeries needed, but no hospital in New Jersey could do them. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia had much success with staged palliation surgeries, and all further care was directed there.

Liam was born on Aug. 24, 2018, and his journey as a heart warrior began.

On Aug. 27, Liam endured his first palliative surgery the Norwood. Not even 12 hours later, Liam suffered cardiac arrest in front of Nicole and Kevin and was revived. He spent three weeks in the hospital following this surgery.

In between his first and second surgery, he was life-flighted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for low oxygen levels. He required requiring oxygen, blood transfusions, and antibiotics.

Liam’s second surgery, the Glenn, was a bit unexpected. After many complications, Liam spent seven weeks in the hospital. He came home with a feeding tube and continuous oxygen.

Liam grew and improved, and was able to come off oxygen. During his second surgery, Nicole became ill and was in the hospital herself with postpartum cardiomyopathy, which caused left-sided heart failure. After medical treatment, follow up with cardiology, and weight loss for over a year, Nicole’s heart function improved.

More recently, Liam was finally able to wean off his feeding tube at 19 months old. He is currently receiving four different therapies through early intervention six times a week, and following up with local Morristown cardiologists and his healthcare team.

Liam faces his final stage of palliation surgery, the Fontan. This open heart surgery is done between ages 2 and 3. The family is hoping that he will qualify for this next surgery, and if not, children usually must wait until eligible or listed for a heart transplant.

Liam is happy at home with his parents, who both work in the community as nurses, along with two dogs Rudy, and Harley. Dad is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.