PLAIN VIEW — Students at Plain View Elementary School beamed with excitement when Ronald McDonald walked in the gymnasium on Thursday. But their fellow classmate Catie Jo Elmore was the star of the show.
In honor of Catie Jo, a fifth-grader born with a heart defect, the school raised $9,200 to be split between the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina Medical Foundation for children. The theme was “Heroes Come In All Sizes” and money will help families and children who need pediatric cardiology care.
The school celebrated Thursday with visits from medical officials and Ronald McDonald House representatives. During the assembly, Catie Jo was joined by her parents, Rebecca and Spencer Elmore.
“We’re just proud of our community,” Spencer said about the collective effort to help youths at UNC and the Ronald McDonald House. “It’s just amazing that so much money was raised in such a short period of time.”
Catie Jo was born with Ventricular Septal Defect, a result of a hole separating the two lower chambers of the heart. She has a pacemaker to assist with the complication. Catie Jo is outgrowing the device and scheduled to receive her third in the summer. She received her first as a baby and the second in kindergarten.
“She lives a typical life just like any other child,” Rebecca said.
Beth Best, organizer and health teacher, mentioned how the shy student has a can-do attitude when it comes to work and physical activity.
“She doesn’t use this as a crutch to get out of work or even to do our running laps in P.E.,” she said. “She may slow down a minute and have to take a walk because she feels that her heart is out of rhythm or if she feels that she needs to stop for a second. But she always goes right back to doing it.
“She always goes through and persevere,” Best said. “She a strong little girl and we want to help make her stronger.”
Best added that Plain View Elementary was excited about the fundraising effort of more than 370 students in a short span of time.
“We had Ronald McDonald here today and he’s an exciting guest, but our big guest was our students because they did all of the work.”
During the assembly, Best said the basic foundation of education is reading, writing and math. She added caring and support to the mix as well.
“That’s really what life is all about and making them a good adult and a good person,” Best said.
For several years, the school has increased awareness and financially supported health efforts such as battles against cancer or organizations such as the March of Dimes and Duke Hospital. More than $50,000 has been raised. This year, the school focused on Catie Jo, who received treatments from the UNC Pediatric Cardiology Department since birth.
Best said they put a lot of trust into the students pulling everything together.
“That’s what we have at Plain View,” Best said. “We got a community and a great foundation of respect, care, love and concern for one another.”
Principal Gaynor Hammond applauded the work of Best and the efforts of those who raised funds.
“She does a phenomenal job on connecting our kids to our community,” Hammond said, “especially when it’s our own students with Catie Jo. It makes it more lifelike to our little kids here.”
The Ronald McDonald House provides care for families in life-altering moments by offering physical and emotional support when children are in area hospitals.
“I’m completely impressed and in awe of these young philanthropists,” said George Marut, director of development at the Ronald McDonald House at Chapel Hill. “They’re inspiring tomorrow’s giving and supporting a classmate like this is truly an amazing act of love, hope and caring. And we at the Ronald McDonald House at Chapel Hill are unbelievably impressed and grateful for their great work.”
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