MONTVALE, N.J. — Cooper Palatnek of Montvale stood no more than three feet tall at the Pascack Valley High School track in a sea of nine other children just like him on Sunday afternoon.
For the first time, the smiley 5-year-old and others in the group stood united with purpose as they celebrated the launch of the Children's Heart Foundation's New Jersey chapter before taking a victory lap.
Cooper's parents, Todd and Jaime Palatnek, spearheaded the effort -- and raised $31,000 in the process.
Still making sense of his own journey, Cooper turned to his mother after the Superhearts Walk and asked why the other children didn't join.
"Sometimes I think he thinks everyone was born with a 'special heart,'" Jaime Palatnek said. "Sometimes people tell him he had a broken heart and now it's fixed.
"And that drives me mad," she said. "I always tell him nothing was broken -- just special."
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