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All three Otsego elementary schools participated in the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart challenge, an annual fundraising opportunity to both raise money for AHA programs and to teach kids how to stay heart healthy and have raised $27,946

This year’s challenge was called “Finn’s Mission”, named for a young boy born with a heart condition and has already had 17 surgeries. As students reached new fundraising levels, they could collect a new backpack tag of a special character with a special heart-healthy mission like getting enough sleep, staying away from tobacco and vaping, eating right and exercising and being kind to others. Finn’s Mission also included a challenge for kids and their families to learn Hands-Only CPR. Washington Street Elementary had 17 students complete this and Dix Street had 36!

Finn provided a special connection to the cause for students. But many of our kids also have more personal connections at their schools. 

Just last year, WSE’s head custodian Gary Richie suffered a stroke. He’s now doing well and back at work, but the Kids Heart Challenge activity day included a special station for students to write him a note. Those notes are now displayed in a big heart in the hallway outside Richie’s door. “It makes me feel like this is where I belong,” Richie says of the special gesture. 

Two years ago, Dix Street Elementary PE teacher, Darcy Bentley, suffered a heart attack and had to undergo emergency surgery. A friend and coworker is credited with saving her life by doing CPR. Bentley runs the Kids Heart Challenge at DSE and since her heart attack, it’s taken on a new meaning. “I really encourage the kids to watch the videos that the American Heart Association has on the website. One video is to learn the signs of a stroke and the other teaches hands only CPR.  Hands only CPR is a great life skill to have. That has been my focus,” she says. When she started bringing this fundraiser to Dix Street 17 years ago, she did so in honor of an Otsego administrator who died from a heart attack, then for her dad who had a stroke. Now that she’s been a recipient of heart care, her advocacy is only stronger. “I want them to understand how important learning hands-only CPR is and what a great cause we are earning money for. I am a blessed woman to be here and I love that we can make a difference every year with our donations!”

All three elementary schools set up fun activity stations for the Kids Heart Challenge days to do during PE class. And the kids and families really get into this fundraiser. Total, the three schools have raised just $27,946 and a few more dollars might come in yet. This is an annual fundraiser for Alamo and Dix Street, Washington Street participates every other year. 

student shooting a basket
students exercise during the kids heart challenge
kids on the climbing wall
student jump roping
student rides on stomach on a scooter
students on climbing wall
student hula hooping
students exercise during the kids heart challenge
student jumps over bar in obstacle course

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