St. John's Lutheran School in Bakersfield celebrated on Friday after students there raised almost $40,000 in donations for the American Heart Association. The students held a giant Silly String fight, having fun while celebrating their efforts, as well as honoring a classmate.
Senior Director for the American Heart Association Morgan Porter explains how the students were able to raise that money.
"Through Kids Heart Challenge, what they do is they reach out to their friends and family to raise awareness on heart health education, but then also to make an impact by raising lifesaving donations," said Porter.
The Kids Heart Challenge allows students to improve their own health by doing things like cardio-based activities, making pledges to stay active, and doing good deeds in the community.
The students' accomplishments are even more special, considering their inspiration comes from fellow classmate Ash Anderson and his sister Emma. Ash was born with multiple congenital heart defects and underwent open heart surgery at the age of 5.
"Yeah, I had heart surgery when I was, like… I don't know," said Ash.
Emma says helping people is the best thing about Kids Heart Challenge.
"That we get to help people who have heart problems, just like my brother," said Emma.
Porter says kids like Ash are why fundraising and awareness campaigns are important.
"He's living a happy, healthy life today because of all the advancements in technology and surgeries and medicine, which the American Heart Association donations go and contribute to doing so and making an impact," said Porter.
The students' top fundraisers were also given awards during the celebration event. The first grade class raised the most as a group, roughly $9,579, while the school's top individual fundraiser was a second grader who raised $2,038.
Porter says it's more than money.
"They're making a bigger impact overall as a whole, and that's - those are skills for a lifetime," said Porter.
Representatives with the American Heart Association say this is one of the biggest celebrations they've seen so far, adding that they will continue to do more challenges like this one and teach more kids and families about heart health.