Kids raise funds to fight heart disease

Tynly Booth loves her little brother. And the six-year-old first-grader used Rowdy as an inspiration to raise money for the American Heart Association.


But she was not alone.

Booth was one of 65 elementary school students at Killdeer School to participate in the annual Jump Rope/Hoops For Heart fundraising campaign in February. The students raised $8,100 for the American Heart Association during the campaign that ran from Feb. 1-Feb. 17.

“The students go above and beyond. We put our mission in their hands and they make something extraordinary out of it,” said Mary Reisen, the American Heart Association’s youth marketing director for western North Dakota.

Killdeer has been doing the fundraiser for more than a decade, Reisen said. It is one of about 200 schools in North Dakota to do some type of fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

Those donations go directly into fight against heart disease in the form of research, education and training.

For Tynly, the fundraiser hits close to home.

Rowdy, a 4-year-old ball of energy, was born with a heart defect that affects the amount of beats per minute in his heart. It’s called biscustid aortic valve descending dilation.

That’s a awfully big word for a little boy. But it’s one that causes Rowdy’s heart to race at 120 beats per minute, when the normal rate is about 60 to 80, said his mother, Jaylee Booth.

Despite the problem, “He’s just a normal, sometimes crazy little boy,” Booth said.

Tynly spends a lot of time with her brother, sometimes playing to best friends and other times battling like … well … sister and brother.

Tynly often thinks about her brother while she’s at school. And when they began the fundraiser, she sought donations with his smiling face in mind.

“I did it ‘cause he has a special heart,” Tynly said.

The children learned about their hearts during physical education class. Elementary school physical education instructor Ashley Jelly teacher incorporated jumping rope and basketball into the event.

The students took what they learned and passed it on to others while seeking donations for the American Heart Association.

“The kids just went out and asked for donations,” Jelly said. “They killed it this year. I was really surprised.”

Their goal was to reach $7,600, which was slightly more than the $7,358 total that was raised last year. The donations this year ranged from $5 to some in the hundreds, Jelly said.

Jelly honored the top-five fundraisers with a homemade lunch. She made them chicken alfredo with salad, strawberries and dirt cake with gummy worms.

The top fundraiser this year was Colter Gregory, a first-grader who raised $1,009. The others were: Leah Duttenhefner, a third-grader who raised $619, followed by Booth with $406, Aidan Kennedy, sixth grade, at $400 and Kaylee Rhode, second grade, and Kia Rohde, third grade, who each raised $300.

There were other things that made the event fun, said Jelly, an avid Dallas Cowboys fan. She told the students that if they met the goal, she would wear a different NFL jersey for a week. But she could not wear that of the Cowboys.

Additionally, there was a grade-level competition where the winner would get to “silly string” Jelly. The competition was between students in kindergarten through second grade and those in the third-through-sixth grade and the level with the most participants would be the winner. The older students won by four, so they will get to cover Jelly with Silly String during the Accelerated Reading Bash at the end of the school year.

And, Killdeer third-grade teacher Heather Blum said if anybody in her class finished in the top five, they would get to paint her face. Duttenhefner went all “van Gogh” on her face. 

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