Heartfelt Fund Collects Thousands From Book Sales

ST. MARYS — The Heartfelt Fund, established to support victims of Hyptrophic Cardio Myopathy (HCM), just passed $11,000 in book sales, selling more than 500 books written about St. Marys.

“We’re pretty pleased so far,” Buz Howard said of the book "The St. Marys Anthology: Tales and Sketches From An American Small Town."

The book, which costs $22, is organized chronologically as a series of tales and sketches of St. Marys.

“It doesn’t purport to be a history book at all,” Howard said. “It’s tales and sketches of a small town. Some are about the way people lived at different times in the past.”

Howard contributed nostalgic pieces about the two theaters in St. Marys in 1950, what family grocery night was like and about catching snapping turtles.

John Andreoni also wrote nostalgic pieces about his father’s hunting journal and the local candy store.

There are a few history pieces that anchor the work, Howard said. For example, Todd Stieles is a foremost expert in the world on local Charles Cruse, and contributed a piece. Kraig Noble, who has spent decades in the study of Gen. August Willich, also contributed to the book.

Dave Stilwell contributed a piece on the Miami and Erie Canal, but more than that, lent his ear for language and eye for design to the publication.

“He’s talented and puts in a steady, dogged effort," Howard said. "He’s a writer himself, a former sports writer, and a good writer in his own right. He’s invaluable. I couldn’t do this without Dave ... He works quietly in background doesn’t seek attention at all."

The book was written with the idea the proceeds would go to the Heartfelt Fund, which was started to help Liz Sampson, affected by HCM.

After the fund started, the Sampson family said they’d like to give to other children affected by HCM.

“Not many get the disease, but when you do, it requires a defibrillator and sometimes a heart transplant,” Howard said. “So anyhow, this is for people who are victims, and there are a couple out there. Three kids in our town have died from it, and two are related to me.”

Besides selling the book, Howard said he plans to hold other fundraisers for the Heartfelt fund.

“The books are just part of it hopefully. We are taking donations,” he said.

Those can be sent to the St. Marys Community Foundation at 206 E. Spring St., St. Marys, OH 45885.

The group has also planned an event at JT’s Brew and Grill, at 5 p.m. Jan. 28, where a percentage of proceeds will benefit the fund. Howard said he thinks they’ll also have a booth at the next SummerFest.

“Hopefully it will stay an active fund, a pretty major fund,” he said.

The most gratifying thing for Howard, however, was working with a group of authors.

“These guys joined in, and they did it with enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s fun to have a group project like this. Slogging through a book can be lonely.”

Since selling the book, Howard said he’s had all kinds of feedback.

The biggest fans seem to be in the older generation, though there’s nothing to turn off younger people interested in history.

He said it’s the kind of book people thumb through, read parts, and come back to at a later time.

He said he hears a lot of people buy them for grandparents, aunts, uncles and older members of their family.

“Maybe you have to live some of it first,” he said.