Dowagiac elementary school raises $7,370 for Kids Heart Challenge

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

DOWAGIAC — A local elementary school used its fundraising efforts to support the mission of the American Heart Association.

Students at Justus Gage Elementary School raised $7,370.93 through its Kids Heart Challenge and donated the funds to the AHA.

Funds raised by Kids Heart Challenge participants support the American Heart Association’s scientific research and outreach programs, paving the way for breakthroughs and advancements that improve health outcomes and create healthier communities. From 2018-2022, the American Heart Association funded $12.9 million across 67 new research studies at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

The students exceeded their original goal of $2,500 by nearly $5,000. P.E. Teacher Erica Schibley said the challenge began after an AHA rep visited the school and presented heart health information. The school then came up with incentives for the students to reach their fundraising goal, which included having a pajama day in school. After easily reaching that goal in a matter of days, the school set a new goal of $5,500 where the students would watch a baseball movie. 

“I asked them if they could do their part by asking others if they could donate and the students did their part,” Schibley said. “They did very well with it.”

In addition, every student that raised $100 or more was able to pie Principal Bryan Henry and Schibley in the face. Top fundraisers included Asturianna Lozada, who raised $525.67, Addison Ausra, who raised $375.58 and Ariah Warner, who raised $303.84. Between her and Henry, Schibley estimates that approximately 60 total pies were delivered to their faces, which made for a fun experience.

“It made me very proud,” she said. “I thought they did a good job. I’m very proud they were able to raise so much money. We were not expecting it. It’s wonderful.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans only 20 percent of kids get enough activity on a consistent, recommended basis. In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior.

Schools interested in participating in the Kids Heart Challenge can register online at