While most third graders are still learning the basics of math, reading and writing, 9-year-old Rachel Fischer, a third grader at Lincoln Elementary School, is raising thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association.
"I have been raising money for the American Heart Association for three years now. I have had tons of people in my family that have had heart problems and I've known some people and still do know some people that have heart problems — and I like helping people," Rachel said.
Through the American Heart Association, schools across the nation participate in Jump Rope for Heart or Hoops for Heart to raise money for those affected by a heart disease or a heart defect.
Rachel had almost two weeks to raise $2,048. In order to accomplish her goal, she went door to door in McPherson and explained to residents why she was raising money.
In three years, Rachel Fischer has raised over $3,948 alone, and this year she set her goal even higher and raised $2,048. For Lincoln Elementary as a whole, they raised $3,888 for the AHA.
“Some people say I do it for the prizes. If I did, then I would’ve just stopped at $1,000 last year. I denied almost all the prizes the year before. But one of my teachers said I deserved them because I worked hard,” Rachel said.
Not only has Rachel seen the need to help those across the world affected by a heart disease, she has even seen it in her community. Family friend Rachel Hoffman lost her daughter in October 2016 to hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS. “She was born with a congenital heart defect. My daughter, Brynleigh, ended up with a heart transplant and she only went through the Norwood surgery, which is the first of three open heart surgeries for this specific defect and other major heart defects before she went into massive heart failure,” Hoffman said.
Rachel was personally affected by the death of Hoffman’s daughter, so she rose to the challenge to help Hoffman’s family out by raising money for the AHA.
“The first year she did it, Stephanie (Rachel Fischer’s mother) told me that she was doing this for Brynleigh. She personally had a story to tell how it personally affected her life. Rachel really has a heart of gold and the sympathy she has for people its beyond her age,” Hoffman added.
The Wyssmann family in McPherson is also affected by heart disease as their son, Tanner, is diagnosed with HLHS as well.
"She has a servant heart. That's impressive by itself, and also the fact that it’s something dear to me and my family. It touches my heart that someone that young can go and do that — it’s a very impressive thing," said deputy T.J. Wyssmann of the McPherson Fire Department.
Each year, Rachel said she pushes herself to raise more and more for the association and is not afraid to reach her goals.
While raising money is becoming easier for her, Rachel said it has been difficult at times.
“At least this year she didn’t have anybody slam the door in her face, last year she did,” said Stephanie Fischer, Rachel’s mom.
“They opened the door and they saw me and just slammed it — it didn’t bother me,” Rachel added.
Rachel has gotten her speech down to a science, and would advise others not to be so forced when explaining what they’re raising money for.
“Don’t sound so demanding and don’t do your speech fast. Also, don’t be rude when you say it and don’t go ‘uhgggg,’” Rachel Fischer explained as she slouched her shoulders in her chair.
While some are comfortable with setting one goal, Rachel keeps setting new ones — and breaking them.
"I like to push myself. I feel like if you don't go higher than you did last year and keep it at one goal, you're not challenging yourself. I know so many people that have had heart problems and it just reminds me of how other families might feel — so I want to help them," she said. "I feel like this year was really hard, but I'm going to keep at it until it's a little easier for me. Next year I'll shoot for $1,500 or even $2,000 and then after that I want to reach $2,500.”
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.