Unsung Hero: Jump Rope for Heart

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By Ashley Smith
By Josue

BLUFORD -- A little girl is bouncing back after her fourth open-heart surgery in five years. She and her classmates are participating in the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. It's hard to believe that just one year ago today, six-year-old Mariah Anderson was in Boston going through her fourth open heart surgery.  

Mariah was born with a tumor in her heart and suffers from congenital heart defect. Doctors are hopeful this latest surgery will be her last.
 
"She has so much energy, no medication at all. We've been on six and seven medications all her life," said Mariah's mom Melissa Anderson.
 
Mariah's mom Melissa says since her surgery in Boston, Mariah is able to do just about anything, rather than sit on the sidelines.
 
"She's been able to run and keep up with the kids," said Melissa. "She was never able to do that she would get winded or have a hard time breathing. She just does everything everybody else does now."
 
That includes participating in the annual school fundraiser "Jump Rope for Heart" at Bluford Elementary School.
 
This year the fundraiser is a little different. Students are wearing orange shirts - Mariah's favorite color - and celebrating her "mended little heart."
 
Jenna Kidd is a coordinator for Mended Little Hearts. An organization that provides support to patients and family members of kids living with CHD.
 
"We call them our heart heros because they're just amazing kids and to think everything they go through most adults don't even experience," said Mended Little Hearts Coordinator Jenna Kidd. "They truly are heroes to go through open-heart surgeries, hospital stays, procedures, I mean you name it these kids have been through it."
 
Last year the community came together for the Anderson family raising more than $8,000 to help fund their trip to Boston. 
 
This year, even the youngest students at the school are helping.
 
"You really think that the little kids don't understand what it is to go our of your way to help others but they've really just picked up on it and came at me with some ideas that they had," said kindergarten teacher Jonna Gieselman.
 
"We just couldn't have done it without everybody's help and support," said Melissa. "When we were in Boston Mariah had care packages everyday."
 
One jump at a time, students are making a difference for kids like Mariah.
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