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Manteca rallies to help with heart defect
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The Swanson Family Natalie, Jared and Blake stand in front of Tony and Mrs. Ks Bakery Caf where supporters bought some 600 dinners over three hours Monday evening to help with medical related expenses for their unborn daughter Zoey. - photo by GLENN KAHL

A daughter still in the womb — who is expected to need major heart surgery when she is born next month by caesarian section — brought the community out in droves to purchase nearly 600 take-out dinners in a one-of-a-kind fundraiser in support of a young family.

Jared and Natalie Swanson had learned that their new daughter, Zoey, has only one ventricle in the heart rather than two plus narrowing of a pulmonary artery requiring immediate surgery when she is born at Stanford.  Two more surgeries are expected to be scheduled before the little girl is three years old.

Her ventricle and aortic arteries are not located in the correct locations, it was noted.

Grandmother Kerry Harris who operated the Main Street Café a number of years ago realized the uphill monetary battle her daughter and son-in-law are up against with the birth of their daughter and planned a large take-out dinner.  Harris presold 580 tickets through friends’ businesses and also on a website set up for the event held this past Monday.

“When I heard this news, of course, my first thoughts were, OK God, we know you have a purpose for Zoey’s life.  Now, what can I do to help these kids besides prayer?  Well, I can cook,” she thought. She recognized the expenses the couple will undoubtedly incur that will be difficult for them to handle with their time off work.

“Every mother’s prayer is to have a healthy baby,” she said.  Natalie and Jared’s one son Blake is now 13 months old.

All she needed was a restaurant to prepare the meals with a parking lot large enough for drive-through dinner pickups from 4 until 7 p.m. Artimus Voursakis owner of Tony and Mrs. K’s Bakery – Restaurant on Cottage Avenue at Yosemite Avenue stepped up and offered her business and her kitchen as the venue.  Harris said the flow of cars was steady and traffic never really backed up.  Others driving by and seeing the activity stopped to ask about the event with many of them taking out dinners as well.

A Manteca Police officer pulled up in his patrol car early in the evening, she added, and wanted to know what was happening at the restaurant. After he got his dinner he must have put it out on the radio because other policemen were soon pulling into the parking lot for their dinners, Harris said.

On the menu was a choice of beef or chicken pasta and Focaccia bread for a donation of $10.  A baker at Mrs. K’s, named Diane, prepared the Focaccia bread for the meal.  A website location, is still up and is accepting donations through Pay Pal for the young couple.  It was through that same website that many of the tickets were sold.

Mrs. K’s handed out coupons for her bakery-café to those picking up the dinners, showing her appreciation to the community.  A group of moms, known as Heart Moms, were also on hand to help with the dinner.

Harris noted that the name “Zoey” translates as “Life.”  The mortality rate for her condition was once seen as 85 percent, she said, with it now down to only five percent.

For anyone without a computer Zoey has a savings account that has been set up at Bank of the West in her name for their convenience.