DRACUT -- Today through next Friday is an "eight-day week" that includes the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania, Random Acts of Kindness Week, and Valentine's Day.

In other words, it's the perfect week for the state Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick to declare "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, In Loving Memory of Joseph Middlemiss," honoring the widely adored, Beatles music-loving 6-year-old who was born with cardiomyopathy, and who died suddenly in his Dracut home on Sept. 23.

This past Monday, at Lily Mack Farm on Broadway Road in Dracut, Scott and Kate Middlemiss, Joseph's parents, were invited by several friends -- including Joe's former special-education facilitator at Tyngsboro Elementary School, Mary Jane Caron, as well as state Rep.

Joey Middlemiss, 6, holds hands with his parents in an undated photo from the family’s Facebook page. Joey died in September, and today through
Joey Middlemiss, 6, holds hands with his parents in an undated photo from the family's Facebook page. Joey died in September, and today through Friday, Feb. 14, has been declared "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, In Loving Memory of Joseph Middlemiss" in Massachusetts.

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Colleen Garry, Melissa Patenaude and Lily Mack's owner, Christi Guthrie -- to a surprise proclamation-dedication ceremony.

Patenaude, a former Dracut resident now living in Tyngsboro, has a 9-year-old son, Nicholas, who has suffered from a heart defect since infancy. She founded a New England support-group chapter for families battling heart defects in Boston in 2005, through which she eventually met the Middlemiss family.

"Heart defects as a health category go largely unnoticed," Patenaude said. "Heart people are trying to educate, advocate, make people aware, and help other heart families in need as much as we possibly can. The state's honoring the memory of Joseph Middlemiss is a huge help toward doing that.


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Drawing on several years of experience in successfully petitioning the state and city of Lowell to recognize "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week" each February, Patenaude was grateful to have Garry's enthusiastic assistance in getting the Legislature to specially honor Joseph and his family with a proclamation this year, she said.

On Friday, Feb. 14, from 7 p.m.

At Monday’s announcement of the proclamation for Massachusetts’ "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, In Loving Memory of Joseph
At Monday's announcement of the proclamation for Massachusetts' "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, In Loving Memory of Joseph Middlemiss," held at Lily Mack Farm in Dracut, are, from left, state Rep. Colleen Garry, who assisted in getting the proclamation approved by the Legislature; Joey's parents, Scott and Kate Middlemiss; and family friends Melissa Patenaude and her son, Nicholas Lemieux. The proclamation ceremony was a surprise to the Middlemisses. SUN/BOB WHITAKER

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.
to midnight, capping the week dedicated to Joseph Middlemiss' memory, Guthrie is organizing and inviting the public to attend the "First Annual Heart Ball: More Heart, Less Hallmark," at the Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut, featuring a dinner, comedy and dancing.

Tickets are $60 per person with proceeds benefiting "Joe's Big Heart Fund," to further spread cardiomyopathy awareness through the "Joseph Middlemiss 'All You Need Is Love' Mission," Guthrie wrote on the event's website, http://first annualheartball.splashthat.com.

"Both Kate and Scott are amazing people, great educators, parents, friends, brother, sister and colleagues," Patenaude said. "My hope is, this proclamation and Heart Ball will help carry on Joe's mission forever. It's going to go places, I know it will."

As explained by Scott Middlemiss in December, the All You Need is Love Mission (referencing Joe's favorite Beatles song) is a "random act of kindness/pay it forward mission" that strives to honor his son's memory by "spreading Joe's love, kindness, and compassion," he said.

As visitors to the mission's page on Facebook may learn, participants can obtain an information card and key chain that they are asked to pass along to someone for whom they have performed a random act of kindness, snapping a photo of the transfer in the process.

"To date, we have personally sent out more than 500 mission cards, and we know that others have scanned them to create many more replicas to be dispersed on their own," Scott Middlemiss wrote on the AYNIL Mission's Facebook page last week. "Even without a card to pass on, we've heard so many stories about kind acts done in Joseph's name. He has inspired children and adults alike, and the ripple effect of kindness continues to go on and on."

At Monday's ceremony at Lily Mack Farm, Kate Middlemiss, holding the framed proclamation, expressed heartfelt thanks to the family's friends, loved ones and supporters.

"Joe was our spirited, fun-loving, wonderful little boy," Kate Middlemiss said. "We want to carry on Joe's love and his mission with the help of as many people as we can."

Follow John Collins on Twitter at johncolowellsun.com.