Smith: This makes half a mil' for Colby Groom

Healdsburg's 16-year-old Colby Groom hosted a party on Sunday to mark a milestone in his after-school project to rid the world of defects and disease of the human heart.

Personal appeals by this spunky, personable teen and sales of the charitable wine — Colby Red — created by his famed father, Daryl Groom, now have brought in more than $500,000.

"Which is completely amazing," Colby said at the bash at VML Winery.

He and his family donate to the American Heart Association and other organizations working to prevent or cure heart disease and to serve those afflicted by it — especially the kids.

Colby's parents, Daryl and Lisa, and two of his three sisters — all of whom once feared they might lose him to open-heart surgery — pitched in at the party. VML poured wine and top-drawer restaurateurs Charlie Palmer and Mark and Terry Stark provided the dazzling food.

Colby, a soph at Cardinal Newman High, wasn't yet 10 when he underwent back-to-back surgeries prompted by a defective valve. It was a miserable and terrifying time of his life, but he came through.

At age 12, he asked his dad, long one of Australia's finest winemakers and now one of America's best to boot, if they might sell a wine and donate the proceeds to the fight against heart disease.

Colby would have been happy for the project to produce $500. But Daryl made a delicious wine and he and Treasury Wine Estates arranged with Walgreen's to carry it.

Since then, Colby Red has been picked up by California Pizza Kitchen and other restaurant and retail chains across America, and beyond. Colby also travels to fundraising galas, tells his story and both brings in and grants significant dollars for heart-health causes.

He's focused now on seeing his mission pass the $1 million mark.

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