Six-year-old Drew Bove has always enjoyed making a difference in people’s lives, according to family members.
The Stoneleigh Elementary kindergartner has wrapped presents and served meals at Christmastime, so when his teachers at the Towson school shared the details of a nationwide fundraiser for the American Heart Association in which students do heart healthy activities for sponsorship money his parents said he was intrigued.
With help from his parents, Drew took part in the 10-day fundraising campaign organized by his school. Last week, the heart association announced he raised $7,200, earning him the No. 1 fundraiser rank in Baltimore County and the No. 2 rank for fundraisers in the state— that honor went to a student on the Eastern Shore, according to the heart association’s youth market director Courtney Baltimore.
The national nonprofit’s annual Jump for Hearts fundraiser was organized at Stoneleigh by physical education teachers Matthew Berkey and Timothy Lane. Along with 105 other schools in Baltimore County and Baltimore city, Stoneleigh encouraged students to raise money toward the mission and goals of the heart association, which include building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to its website.
Drew and other Stoneleigh students jumped rope, played basketball and performed other heart-healthy activities to raise money from sponsors, and at the end of this year’s campaign, they garnered more than $39,000 to be donated to the American Heart Association.
Only Villa Cresta Elementary in Parkville came close, raising more than $20,000. Stoneleigh has raised more than $188,600 since it started participating in the campaign, according to Baltimore.
“Essentially, it’s centered around teaching the kids about heart health and the importance of daily exercise,” Berkey said of the campaign.
At Stoneleigh, the campaign is launched during the school’s jump rope unit each February, he said. Students raised money this year from Feb. 6 to 16.
“He came home full of energy and said we have to raise $1,000, but he’s 6 so he needed the help,” said Patrick Bove, Drew’s father. “He wouldn’t drop it so I said, ‘If we’re going to do it we need a plan.’”
The campaign happened to take place during a cold snap, so Drew eschewed the idea of jumping rope and instead he decided on pushups, which he could do indoors.
The Boves purchased a domain name—DrewHeart.org—which they redirected to the school’s lengthier campaign website, and Drew funded the first donation with the entire contents of his piggy bank.
His father posted a video of the donation to Facebook to share with friends and family, challenging them to donate in exchange for Drew doing pushups, and the family met the $1,000 goal by Day 4.
“That got a bunch of views,” said Britney Bove, his mother. “We found the more people had fun with it the more donations we got so we kept going.”
When Drew came down with the flu halfway through the campaign, family members stepped in to post videos of the pushups they completed for donors to social media.
Patrick Bove took on 40 pushups a day, and Britney Bove took on another 40.
Even Drew’s grandfather, Chris Smith, got in on the action, doing 20 pushups when Drew and his 3-year-old brother, Danny, came over to his Perry Hall home one day.
Smith, 70, said the cause was close to his heart because his grandfather died of heart disease. He took on the challenge and recorded a video doing pushups with his 30-pound grandson, Danny, on his back.
“They have a good social network, but I was extremely surprised at how much money they’ve raised,” Smith said.“It’s so nice of [Drew].”
Between matches and personal sponsorships, the Boves said they contributed about $700 to the fundraiser; the rest of the donations came in from friends and family and their networks on social media.
For his efforts, Drew earned key chains, a jump rope, a T-shirt and other games as well as the top prize, an action camera similar to a Go Pro, but his parents said that isn’t the only reason they’re happy the 6-year-old participated.
The campaign was a good learning experience for their son, Patrick and Britney Bove said, and now that the dollars have been counted and the results are in, the family said they are looking ahead to next year and thinking about raising the stakes.
“I want to raise $10,000,” Drew said with a smile.