Dublin Villager

Third-grader's fundraising effort breaks school record

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Wyandot Elementary School third-grader Ava Cady broke records at the school for the Jump Rope for the Heart event with more than $1,600 raised.

Wyandot Elementary School students raised more than $6,000 for the American Heart Association last month and one third-grader was responsible for more than $1,600 of that.

Ava Cady raised a record-breaking $1,635 for the school fundraiser that benefits the American Heart Association.

"My goal was $1,000," Cady said. "At first it was $800, then my dad said he would match whatever I raised."

So Cady sat down and made a list of people to call and email seeking donations. A website Cady created helped with fundraising and each donor received a thank-you email.

The fundraising push was inspired by a video made a few years ago of a 6-year-old who had endured several open-heart surgeries.

"I wanted to help people with heart problems, so that's how I did it because I wanted to help people like Colby," she said of the Dallas child, who is now 10 and thriving thanks to surgeries.

The inspiration was so strong, Cady started and ended her fundraising with $10 donations from her own allowance.

The Jump Rope for the Heart fundraiser picks a child -- a "heart hero" -- to feature each year.

"We do this because students don't realize kids can have heart disease, too," said Jon Labbe, vice president of the youth market for the Great Rivers affiliate of the American Heart Association.

"We want to show them in looking at Colby you would never know (he has heart disease)."

Several Dublin City Schools participate in Jump Rope for the Heart and Hoops for the Heart, both of which raise money for educational programs and research.

"It's the longest-running school fundraiser for the American Heart Association," Labbe said. "Dublin City Schools raise a lot of money for us."

In fact, Wyandot Elementary has raised $79,418 for the American Heart Association since 1996.

Wyandot physical education teacher Beth Schuth has been doing the fundraiser since she came to the school, bringing parents in for the event and teaching jump rope and basketball skills.

Students and parents can check their heart rate and pulse after activity to learn more about their own heart health, Schuth said.

Education on heart health has always been a bigger focus for the event than fundraising, but the community has been generous over the years, Schuth said.

"Ava is such a humble child," she said. "This is the most raised in all the years I've taught. The most raised was $500 before. I've never had a child raise $1,600."

Labbe was so impressed by Cady's perseverance he emailed a coworker in Dallas who knows Colby.

"I wanted to make sure Ava knows Colby is happy about all the money she raised," he said.

A video thank you from Colby was shown to Cady last week as a surprise for her hard work.

Colby also issued a challenge to Cady for next year's Jump Rope for the Heart: raise more money.

"I'll try," Cady said, grinning after seeing the video.