By TRAVIS MORSE
MT. VERNON — — For Summersville Grade School math teacher Keyma Mount, participating in this past weekend's South Central Illinois Heart Walk had a very special significance.
Mount's daughter, Macy, was born Dec. 4, 2013, with a congenital heart defect. The medical condition was discovered during Macy's first-week check-up when doctors found she was born with three holes in her heart.
“There's a good possibility she'll have to have open heart surgery,” Mount said of her daughter. “It definitely opens your eyes. It's devastating and scary and definitely makes you feel blessed.”
The situation inspired Mount to get involved in this year's Heart Walk, and also motivated Summersville Grade School to organize a special fundraising drive for the American Heart Association.
In the week leading up to the April 12 Heart Walk, students and faculty at Summersville raised an estimated $1,550, well above their original goal of $250.
“It's been absolutely overwhelming,” Mount said. “It just helps so much to know that we have support.”
Erin Franklin, a first grade teacher at Summersville, was the main organizer of the fundraising drive. She said the drive was successful because of the “personal connection” students and faculty have with Mount.
“We really like to try to bring our school together as a community,” Franklin said. “We have such a wonderful community in Summersville so we feel it's important, if we have a student or staff member that's going through something like this, we like to support them in any way we can.”
Organizers took a unique approach to the school's fundraising effort.
Students were able to have their names placed on a Superman emblem for every dollar they brought in to donate. Many students had multiple emblems.
The emblems were made part of a large wall display in the school hallway.
The names on the wall were then entered into a special drawing where the winner gets to be “principal for a day.”
In addition, the day before the Heart Walk, students and faculty were encouraged to wear a superhero, or blue, T-shirt to show support for Macy.
“To entice students to participate, our theme was 'Superheroes from Summersville,'” Franklin said.
This was Mount's first time taking part in the Heart Walk. She was a member of two teams for the event — “Macy's Heart and Soul” and the “Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Team.”
Mike Smith of Woodlawn, Mount's father, said the support shown to his family during this stressful time has been amazing.
“She has shed a lot of tears, but most of them have been just happy tears (because of) people's concern.” Smith said of Mount.
Mount has two daughters — Macy and Lilly, who is 2.