Charlie's House 5k 'Home Run for Safety' to Raise Funds for Public Safety House

Race and Kids Fun Run set for Sun., Sept. 29 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, KS

SEPT. 6, 2013 [OVERLAND PARK, KS]—As any new mom will attest, they call it the “terrible twos” for a reason.

Supervising a toddler 24/7 can be nerve-wracking—especially when their mastery of walking is soon followed by a desire to climb furniture. In a blink-of-an-eye, the consequences can turn tragic.

A Kansas City charity created in response to a toddler’s death six years ago from a furniture-related accident hopes to turn the tragedy into a hands-on, teaching tool for generations to come.

When Charlie Horn, 2, accidently toppled a dresser upon himself in 2007, it sparked a wave of grief throughout a network of friends, neighbors and childcare professionals who knew him best.

Lynne Bock, a front desk associate at Midtown Athletic Club, wasn’t among that tight knit group, but found herself affected by the tragedy when she received a phone call from Harvey Grossman, M.D., her brother. The Overland Park pediatrician was particularly shaken; Charlie was one of his patients.

“I remember Harvey telling me that traumatic injuries are the most common cause of death in children and teens. And, they are preventable,” she said.

As a mom with grown children, Bock felt horrible for Charlie’s parents. Charlie was one of a set of triplets, and the Horn’s already had an older son so they had taken all the standard, home safety precautions, including securing tall furniture and bookcases. What made this accident unusual was that Charlie’s dresser was only 30 inches high—less than three feet off the ground. That is about the height of a standard kitchen table.

The Horn family responded by founding Charlie’s House, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of household dangers to children. Along with highlighting tip-prone furniture, its website at charlieshouse.org, also warns of other household dangers to children, including appliance cords, electrical outlets, floor coverings, stairwells and railings, among others. The site also offers a checklist and instructional videos on how to safety proof your home. The need to safely secure furniture, televisions and other items to walls, however, is Charlie’s House’s main thrust. The charity advocates the use of inexpensive furniture safety straps that can are anchored into wall studs.

At Midtown’s front desk, Bock takes a personal interest in handing out straps when she sees new parents or soon-to-be-moms at the club. She adds that the straps are available for purchase at area stores, including Babies R Us, Nuts and Bolts and Toys R Us.

Looking to take the next step, Charlie’s House is currently in a $1.3 million capital campaign to construct a Safety Demonstration House on Kansas City’s Hospital Hill. When built, the house will serve the public as a home safety, teaching tool and will also be used for fire safety education, health fairs and community outreach.

“We are appreciative of the assistance provided by Lynne Bock and Midtown Athletic Club,” says Cindy Mense, a Charlie’s House board member. “Individuals like Lynne and organizations such as Midtown are vital to fulfilling our mission. We know we’ve already saved lives with our message, but know there are many more families throughout Kansas City and across the country that need this information.”

To raise funds, the charity will host its “Charlie House’s Inaugural 5K Run/Walk and Kid’s Walk” fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 29 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The theme is “A Home Run for Safety.”

Bock’s employer is among the many event sponsors. She credits colleagues and Midtown tennis professional, Kevin Torline, for coordinating a donation on Midtown’s behalf. And, she’s not surprised with the outpouring of private, corporate and public support for Charlie’s House.

“As a community, we all wanted and needed to make something good come from of a tragedy like this,” she said. “We are all affected, because we all have a Charlie in our lives.”

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