By all appearances, Shawn Moriarty is your typical ten-year-old boy. He plays Little League Baseball, and his favorite positions are pitcher, catcher and first baseman. He also likes to play roller hockey and football with his dad. This thrills his parents, who were originally told by doctors that Shawn would not have much of an active life because he was born with severe aortic stenosis.
“I was born with a heart valve that wasn’t working right. It was a problem with my aortic valve,” explains the rising fifth grader at Manatee Bay Elementary School. “When I was one week old, I had my first heart surgery. When I was three years old, I had my major surgery. That saved me and let me be active, run around and play sports.”
Now Shawn is doing what he can to help others by supporting the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser at his school.
“I asked my family members and friends if they would like to donate, and I also had my mom post my fundraising page online to her Facebook account,” explains Shawn. “My favorite way to raise donations is by setting up a lemonade stand in my neighborhood. I do this every year with my mom and sister. A lot of cars stop to donate and are happy that we are doing this.”
Shawn was the biggest fundraiser at his school, raising more than $700 of the $11,800 Manatee Bay collected this year.
“I hope the money raised will help doctors find new ways to treat kids born with heart conditions like mine,” states Shawn.
He says he was excited to see his heart surgeon, Dr. Redmond Burke from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, appear in the Jump Rope for Heart kick-off video. “He’s my hero, and I love that he has saved so many kid’s hearts like mine.”
In addition to knowing he was helping save lives, Shawn says he was excited and proud of himself for being the school’s top fundraiser. For that, he earned the privilege of throwing 13 shaving cream pies. Students who collected at least $100 were able to throw a pie at the PTA President or one of the Specials teachers – and for every additional $50 in donations collected, students could throw another shaving cream pie.
“The teachers got really messy, but I think they kinda liked it,” shares Shawn.