MIDLOTHIAN

Macie Leonard underwent her second open-heart surgery at three years old.

Her grandfather, Ron Herring, explained the surgery took place on a Monday. She was back home by Saturday and that next day was in church.

Herring is a safety manager at Gerdau Midlothian Mill and was presented a check Monday by Delta Steel Technologies for the Macie Medical Bill Campaign.

The president of the Irving-based steel mill, Joe Savariego, said the presentation “brought tears to Ron's eyes.”

But, Delta Steel Technologies was involved with Macie’s surgery before the check.

"We do work for that steel mill. Ron happened to be out of the office and mentioned her second open heart surgery at the age of three,” Savariego elaborated. “We brought her an American Doll at the hospital and so when we heard about the raffle we knew we could make an impact and have a positive influence on these people's lives."

Each worker with Delta Steel purchased a raffle ticket from Liberty Baptist Church in Midlothian. The church is currently raffling off a 55-inch Philips flat-screen TV. Savariego expressed how his team went out of their way to purchase at least one ticket. Delta Steel in return matched the tickets each employee bought.

Macie was at the check presentation walking and running around. The child proved to have made a speedy recovery after the March surgery.

"I think it's remarkable that everyone loves children and they could come together to participate. We mentioned it, and everyone jumped at the opportunity to help. We are proud of that,” Savariego expressed.

“What Delta did yesterday just made me cry," Herring relayed. "It was so overwhelming for them to step up and support my granddaughter. What they did was just phenomenal.”

Before the steel mill’s contribution, the Midlothian community impacted the Leonard family as well.

Herring gave many thanks to the Walmart in Midlothian for allowing them to host an event out front. On Saturday, the family sold raffle tickets and “I heart Macie” t-shirts, which were designed by the students at J.R. Irvin Elementary School, where Macie’s mother, Jennifer Leonard, teaches. Herring added that just about every Walmart associate bought a shirt that day.

Another contributor is Dr. Brown’s office, Access Private Medicine, in town.

Also, Gerdau employees went out of their way to sell raffle tickets. Herring said his co-worker Bob Gerlich, who is a member of The Gryphons, an Ellis County motorcycle club, encouraged all of its members to buy raffle tickets.

When Herring was presented the check on Monday, he thought, “how much this is going to help my daughter and son-in-law. She's literally over a million dollar baby now.”

During the first heart surgery, Macie was only two weeks old and was on heart bypass for almost four days. She turned three years old on March 1, and within two weeks she had her second heart surgery. Macie was on a heart-lung machine for eight hours after the operation.

“She’s a remarkable young girl. She is definitely blessed to be able to come through," Herring said.

Herring explained the financial struggles of the family and mentioned they have two other children as well to care for. “But by the grace of God they are making it,” he assured.

Macie is described by her grandfather as strong-willed, determined and not scared of anything.

“You can tell she’s going to have a purpose in life by the way she came out of both of these open heart surgeries. There’s a reason why this young lady is on this Earth,” Herring expressed.

Liberty Baptist Church in Midlothian is hosting the raffle. Pastor Benny Leonard is the father of Macie’s father, Jeff Leonard. If interested in donating toward the Macie Medical Bill Campaign, contributions can be made to the board of Liberty Baptist Church.

One ticket costs $5 while three tickets cost $10. The raffle ends Sunday, May 6.

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450