MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - February is American Heart Month. The goal is to raise awareness about heart disease and how it can be prevented.
With that in mind, one Memphis elementary school jumped into action.
Mary Lirette teaches kindergarten at Dogwood Elementary School in Germantown. While she helps students with their counting, she is counting on them too. She hopes they will help raise money to fight heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death every year in the U.S. It's also a disease Lirette has had since she was five.
At the age of 5 she contracted a virus that did not let her heart beat on its own. It forced her to rely completely on a defibrillator.
Dogwood Elementary students are helping raise money through the Jump Rope for Heart program. It's a program the school has participated in for 17 years. Overall, the school has raised more than $325,000.
"Secretly I take pleasure in the fact I know that they're helping me with every jump that they make with their ropes," Lirette said.
One of those students is Lirette's daughter Gracie. Lirette calls her a miracle because Lirette did not think she could have a child because of her heart condition.
Dressed in orange, Gracie, a first grader, helped raise money one jump at a time.
"Maybe one day I won't need a machine," Lirette said.
"I never imagined that," her daughter Gracie said.