Published: Jul 23, 2011 4:30 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 23, 2011 3:20 PM EDT

Fort Myers, Fla.-- For Carolena Long, a rare birth defect has shaped most of her life. Born with half a heart, she also faces digestive problems.. requiring her to receive food and medicine through a permanant feeding tube 15 times per day.

"Survival rates are poor and you put them through one of the most horrific surgeries known to man by open heart surgery and she's done two," said her mother Ashley Long.

carolena has spent much of her short life recovering from these surgeries, causing medical bills to stack up. To offset the bills, family friends Deanne DeCicco and Terry Mockler organized a 5K fundraising race.

"Sometimes the people that need help nobody knows about it and they don't get it. So being able to be a part of something that we can help a family that is so inspirational.. where do we sign," DeCicco said.

Over 300 people showed up for the race in Fort Myers Saturday morning... raising thousands of dollars for the cause. Even baby Carolena finished the race with a little help from her mom.

"Her defects are so severe that running is something she may never ever be able to do. But as long as I'm here and she fight I'm going to fight with her and I will push her across the finish line any time she wants to go," Long continued

Carolena will endure another surgery within the next year. Her mother says they will continue to run to raise awareness of the cause.

"It's just incredible the pain that she has to go through just to even feel better again. That is what gets me through. When i'm out there I'm thinking about her and how strong she is," her mother said.

If you missed this mornings race you can still donate to the fund you can go to