Students across southern Arizona raise thousands for the American Heart Association

Published: Apr. 22, 2018 at 1:16 AM MST|Updated: Apr. 23, 2018 at 6:27 AM MST
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PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Students all around Southern Arizona have been doing their part to help the American Heart Association these last few months.

Their outstanding efforts were recognized during the 2018 American Heart Association Heart Walk at Reid Park in Tucson, Saturday night, April 21.

More than twenty children were applauded for raising around $40,000 for the cause. One of those children was 7-year-old Parker de los Santos.

His efforts on social media put him among the top five kids who raised the most in the area. He had a goal of raising $1,000. The local little lifesaver originally thought the idea of that sounded wild.

"My mom thinks it's crazy. You might think it's crazy. It is crazy," he said in a live Facebook video on his mother's page.

At the Heart Walk on Saturday, he told Tucson News Now one of the reasons why he wanted to purse the goal.

"I know it would be a big help for the community and all the kids," he explained.

It was the story of one young girl, though, that truly pushed him towards the fundraiser. Parker de los Santos received a flyer at school, with a story of a girl illustrated on the front of it.

"A girl named Camden. She had to get heart surgery," de los Santos said.

Camden's story became his motivation. He wanted to help her and other children like her. He took his fundraising campaign to the web, creating a Facebook live video.

Parker's mother, Ashley de los Santos, told TNN, "He rehearsed his words a couple times and then was like, I'm ready mom."

Shortly after he made the video, he reached his goal. His big heart shined bright through a video, recorded after he found out. Tears of joy flowed down his face, stunned that he was able to raise that amount of money that quick.

In fact, he had exceeded his original goal.

"My eyes are watering right now. I'm so happy," Parker said in the video.

It was the same kind of feeling for the hundreds at Saturday's Heart Walk. Those in attendance put in a loving effort to stop to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the nation. Among them, dozens of young people.

The Youth Market campaign brought in more than $100,000 from schools across Southern Arizona.

Carla Anaya, the Youth Market Director of AHA Southern Arizona said, "I just hear these kids' stories. Some of them are survivors, some are doing it out of the kindness of their heart."

Those with the organization told TNN they are proud of the youth who continuously pump good into the community.

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