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Although Buffy and Jim McKinney’s grandson, Brody Lambert, was born with a small hole in his heart last August, the doctors felt it would not interfere with his regular growth and development.  Then, while his parents were eating lunch in a local restaurant a month later, he stopped breathing.  Through the grace of God, two EMTs happened to be eating in the same restaurant. They rushed over to the distraught parents and began CPR on Brody, keeping him alive.

Once in the hospital, it was discovered that Brody actually had two holes in his heart, a small one and a much bigger one that needed to be fixed immediately for him to survive. So, at 1 month old and only 8 pounds, Brody had open heart surgery.

Buffy and Jim, who play on the same Midwest Illinois APA team out of The Break Billiards in Cahokia, Ill., were so grateful to the American Heart Association for their role in saving Brody that they decided to begin an annual 9-Ball benefit tournament in Brody’s honor.

On April 16, 2011, the Inaugural Brody Lambert 9-Ball Tournament was run with tremendous success at The Break Billiards. Brody, now 8 months old, made a special, adorable appearance for most of the morning and afternoon— until naptime! Buffy, a charity event organizer by trade, did all of the legwork and phone calls to arrange the benefit. On the day of the tournament, Jim ran the in-house Poker Run while many volunteers helped with the sale of 50/50 tickets, tickets for a wheelbarrow full of alcohol, and setting up and running of a silent auction. The silent auction included pool cues, cases, APA merchandise basket with an APA cue, jewelry, tickets to Rams football games, tickets to Cardinals baseball games, coupons for free business services, and even a cake with “1st Annual Brody Lambert 9-Ball Tournament” written in icing on top. After the tournament, the evening continued with DJ Archie playing to a dance happy crowd.

The tournament directors, Dana and Bruce Patton—APA League Operators of Midwest Illinois APA—ran a full 32 field tournament with half of all entries going to the American Heart Association. Taking 1st Place and winning $240 was Will Freeman, 2nd Place and $145 went to Fernando, and 3rd Place and $95 went to Mike Mercurio. Rising star Brandon Pearson finished 4th while his proud father Dwayne finished 5th.

In all, over $3,200 was raised for the American Heart Association from the first of many Brody Lambert benefit tournaments to come!

For more information on Midwest Illinois APA visit midwestil.apaleagues.com; and for more information on the American Heart Association visit heart.org.

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