GCMS ‘battles’ for heart awareness

By Matt Lasley mlasley@civitasmedia.com

April 5, 2014

Grayson County Middle School honored one of its students whom has struggled with heart disease during a special assembly to raise money for the American Heart Association (AHA) on Wednesday, April 2.

In conjunction with the assembly, GCMS also hosted a “Heroes vs. Villains” battleball tournament with nine teams consisting of students and teachers, which served as a fundraiser for the AHA.

During a break between games, Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan Hammons, who also volunteers at GCMS, called 7th grader JoJo Vanhofwes, whom has undergone three heart surgeries in his lifetime, to the center of the gym floor.

Hammons, dressed as World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar John Cena, presented Vanhofwes, a WWE fan, with a replica United States Championship belt before asking who his favorite wrestler is.

“Batista,” Vanhowfwes said.

Hammons then pulled a Batista t-shirt out of the box to give to Vanhofwes, but that wasn’t all.

Hammons also surprised Vanhofwes with a signed basketball and a replica WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt and named him honorary champion as his classmates cheered and applauded.

As Vanhofwes held the belt high above his head, Hammons said to him, “You inspire us every day.”

Abby Harvey, the youth market director for the Green Rivers Affiliate of the AHA, attended Wednesday’s assembly and said GCMS was the top middle school in the state of Kentucky for fundraising for the AHA.

Hammons said GCMS raised more than $10,000 for the AHA last year, and the money raised will benefit both heart research and patients who can’t afford treatment.

“They work really hard on [fundraising],” Harvey said.

Heart disease research and awareness is especially important, and both are aided by fundraisers like those of GCMS, she said.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of men, women, and children in the United States,” Harvey said. “These programs are important, not just for the dollars they raise, but also to get the information home to the families.”

For more information, visit the AHA’s website at www.heart.org.