Breitwiser up to the challenge

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Pictured, from left, are Waterloo Junior High School teacher Josh Hogan, student Sam Breitwiser and Renee Ades from the American Heart Association. Breitwiser led the district in fundraising as part of the Kids Heart Challenge this year. 

Sam Breitwiser’s philanthropy for the American Heart Association was born out of a friendly sibling rivalry – and it soon became even more personal. 

“To be honest, I started out to keep up with my sister who was winning the Kids Heart Challenge fundraising award before I even started school,” the Gardner Elementary fifth grader said. “But most importantly, my grandpa had heart surgery, which inspired me to keep going and raise as much as I have. My other grandpa died of heart failure as well before I was born. So, this challenge is very important to me.” 

That motivation has fueled Breitwiser’s fundraising success, as he has raised $7,877 for the association since kindergarten through its Kids Heart Challenge program in the Waterloo School District. 

That includes the $1,618.31 he raised this year, which was good for tops in the district. 

“Since kindergarten, Sam’s annual commitment and dedication toward our Kids Heart Challenge event and American Heart Association has been outstanding,” Waterloo Junior High School teacher Josh Hogan said. “His efforts continue to be admired by his teachers and peers, and, just as Donnie Feick and Corwin Pherson have done before him, he will always rank as one of the true heart heroes in the history of our event.” 

Students can participate in the fundraiser in a number of ways, including drinking water instead of sugary drinks, getting 60 minutes of physical activity each day and doing daily good deeds. 

They ask friends and family to donate to help them raise money for the AHA while they do these types of activities. 

“I have really liked raising money for the Kids Heart Challenge, and I’m very grateful to all of our family and friends who have given money to help me do this year after year,” Breitwiser said. 

The Waterloo School District overall raised $66,795.34 for the AHA this year. 

Gardner Elementary raised $19,676.61, Zahnow Elementary raised $18,280.29, Rogers Elementary raised $17,723.44 and WJHS raised $11,115. 

“I am amazed yet again by the efforts of our students and the generosity of our community,” said Hogan, who helps lead the fundraiser in the district. “The American Heart Association is such a valuable and tremendous organization. The donations raised by our students each year continues be tops in our area, and I have no doubts that another great event next year will bring us over $1 million in donations collected by the Waterloo School District since we began the event in 1997.” 

“It feels good to know I’m helping people who have heart trouble,” Breitwiser said. “Raising money to help the American Heart Association feels really good and like we’re not wasting our money, and it’s actually going toward something worthwhile.” 

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