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Lenoir County Public Schools: About LCPS middle schools Eighth grader is perennial leader in annual fundraisers

Eighth grader is perennial leader in annual fundraisers

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When Amber Murphy solicits donations for the American Heart Association, she can make a convincing case for the value of research into heart disease and treatments the research makes possible, especially for young people like herself. Since Amber was four days olds, she has lived with a heart pacemaker.

That medical fact might come as a surprise to a lot of people who know Amber, including many of her classmates at Woodington Middle School. The eighth grader, now 14 years old, is on the volleyball team, plays flute in the band, enjoys drawing and makes good grades.

“She’s an outstanding student, an asset to Woodington,” said her principal, Patrick Phillippe

“I feel like a normal kid,” Amber said recently.

She does, however, have that special insight into heart disease. And she is amazingly dedicated to fighting it through fundraising. For the past nine years, since Amber started kindergarten, she has led her schools in money collected through their official American Heart Association (AHA) fundraisers – Jump Rope for Heart at Pink Hill Elementary and Hoops for Heart at Woodington.

Her efforts alone have amassed $5,800, according to the American Heart Association.

“I feel good knowing that some kids will most likely get better from the money because research and medicine cost money,” Amber said. “I enjoy helping families and their kids be like me because I forget about it, my problem.”

Before she was even born, Amber was diagnosed with congenital complete heart block, a condition that prevents the signal from the top part of the heart from getting to the bottom part. Her parents, Beverly and Steve Murphy of Pink Hill, worked with physicians to ensure Amber’s survival when she was born. The pacemaker she received days after her birth was the first of several she’s received as she’s grown.

Amber takes the medical procedures, the frequent checkups and the precautions in stride. “The only thing it’s really affected is that I can’t be around microwaves or magnets,” she said. But she takes the experience to heart, so to speak, and it has pushed her to excel as a fundraiser at school.

“When I was little, I didn’t really understand it that well, but my parents talked to me about it,” Amber said of the fundraising projects. “They understand how it is to have a kid with a heart problem. They told me it would go to a good cause and help people like me live and help research for other kids.”

Her story was featured twice in regional American Heart Association publications while she was a student at Pink Hill. There, she participated in Jump Rope for Heart, a campaign in which all LCPS elementary schools are active. In middle school, students like Amber transition to Hoops for Heart. Both fundraisers make physical fitness activities part of the campaign by students to raise money for other children with sick hearts.

“Amber and her mom, Beverly, both strive to raise the most they can year after year for heart disease and stroke research and education,” Kristen Riddle, the AHA’s youth market director for eastern North Carolina, said. “They have been amazing volunteers to work with throughout my seven years with American Heart Association.”

When she leaves middle school next month on her way to high school, Amber will leave the organized fundraisers behind. But she won’t forget the American Heart Association.

“The other day,” she said, “my mom got a letter in the mail saying thank you from the American Heart Association, and I asked her why she got it. She said it was because she donated some money. I said, ‘Hey, maybe I could start doing that.’ ”wms_ambermurphy