Youth learn valuable lesson of ‘service before self’ during Heart Walk

  • Published
  • By Nikki Bennett
  • 23rd Force Support Squadron Youth Center
The hallways of the Moody Youth Center are filled every day with excited youth chatting about the hottest new video games, technology gadgets and events of the school day.

Recently however, the focus of conversations shifted to talk of the Heart Walk.

The children were referring to the Lowndes County Heart Walk that was held Nov. 5 in Valdosta, Ga., in support of the American Heart Association.

The Torch and Keeping Every Youth Strongly Tuned in on National Excellence community service clubs, part of Moody Youth Programs, joined efforts to host a contest to design a new T-shirt that was sold in support of raising money for the AHA.

The youth sold more than 66 T-shirts and donated more than $200 to the association, whose mission is to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Additional proceeds are scheduled to be donated to the organization following the "Hoops/Jump Rope for Heart" fundraiser scheduled for March 6, 2010.

The AHA is an organization that is close to the hearts of many at the Youth Center.

Eighteen youth from the Youth Center participated in the walk that was held at McKey Park here. The event participants included Emily Berard, Dillon Rybicky, Antwonia Copeland, Jared Allen, Dante Alyx Steele, Jesse Arcentent, Alfredrik Ward, Kamari Jelks, Katelynn Barnes, Chasisty Cagle, Eboni Register, Simone Register, Jayla Lowe, Jaelyn Temple, Hayden Temple, Kadence Bennett and Marislynn Turnmeyer.

One of the Youth Center's youngest members who attended the walk was 6-year-old Dane Turnmeyer, son of Tammy and Steve Turnmeyer. Dane has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition in which all structures on the left side of the heart are severely underdeveloped. He endured three open heart surgeries and will receive a new heart in the future. Even though Dane takes seven medications daily, he is still a very active child who participates in many activities and clubs at the Youth Center such as soccer and Fit Factor.

"I had to walk in front of everybody else because I had heart surgeries," he said. "I had a lot of fun at the Heart Walk and it was good that we got to raise money to help others like me."

For the future, the youth plan to design and sell T-shirts annually to support the AHA.

The youth also brainstormed other ways to raise funds and are excited to see their ideas possibly implemented in the future.

The design for this year's T-shirt was drawn by Eboni Register. It included a walking track in the shape of a heart with a banner flying overhead. The theme of the event, developed by the children, was "Walk for Life," and was incorporated into the banner.
Those who participated in the event were able to learn the valuable lesson of helping to serve those individuals who are in need.