Third graders at St. Charles Elementary spent their physical education class on Wednesday not only getting the blood pumping, but also raising money while doing it.
It's all part of the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart, a nationwide initiative that gets students active, while helping save the lives of those with various heart conditions.
For the last 21 years, third graders at St. Charles have taken part in this event to raise money for the AHA, but this year's event hits especially close to home for one family, as the students are jumping in honor of one of their own.
Lindsay Gust and her husband, Adam, have six daughters: Makadyn (11), Braelyn (9), Aspyn (6), Camersyn (4), Lawsyn (3), and Oaklyn (2).
4-year old Camersyn was recently diagnosed with a complete heart block; the top half of her heart doesn't pump properly to the bottom half.
"Okay 3rd grade if you are here, in the gym, that should be about 82 of us. If you are here for Jump Rope for Heart, you are in the right spot!" exclaimed St. Charles Elementary Phy Ed Teacher Scott Kobs.
"This year, we have a special person that we're honoring today. And she's over in the bleachers, over there. That's Camersyn Gust. Can we give her a hand?” added Kobs, as the third grade class clapped wildly.
Kobs said that in the 21 years doing this event, St. Charles students have raised over $100,000 for the American Heart Association.
Lindsay Gust explained that Camersyn's diagnosis came rather unexpectedly.
"We had no idea that she had this condition at all, until she broke her arm and went into the emergency room. And one of the nurses noticed that she had a low pulse rate and questioned it," said Gust.
Since she is so young and asymptomatic, Camersyn isn't being treated for her condition, currently.
“If she starts to get different symptoms, like passing out or fainting or anything like that, then ultimately she will have to have a pacemaker installed. When she's 18 she will for sure, but if her conditions change before that, then she will have one sooner,” explained Gust.
Camersyn's third grade sister, Braelyn, took advantage of the annual Jump Rope for Heart event to honor and support her younger sister, while helping others with heart problems.
"Every 50 dollars you save a person's life,” explained Braelyn.
As of now, Braelyn has already raised $1000 for the American Heart Association, and she only hopes to keep that number growing.
Crunching the numbers, Braelyn has saved about 20 lives, thus far.
When I asked Braelyn if she could tell her sister anything, would would it be?
Her response was simple: “I love you.”
Given all that's happened, the Gust family firmly believes in the saying, "Everything happens for a reason,” and they are thankful everyday that Camersyn broke her arm, before it was too late.