Perdue Elementary School student jumps rope to fight heart disease

March 6, 2013 

Gavin Gilliam, a fifth-grader at Perdue Elementary School, raised $1,765 for the American Heart Association in the school’s recent Jump Rope for Heart.

Since first grade, Gavin has raised more than $1,000 every year and has been the school’s top fundraiser.

His mother, Jennifer Gilliam, said Gavin is passionate about the event because of a family connection.

“My father died of congestive heart failure and heart disease runs in my family. All of Gavin’s life, my father was in and out of the hospital. He just became very concerned about what he could do,” Gilliam said.

This year, Gavin made a video posted on YouTube about his effort to raise money for the American Heart Association. A polite child, Gavin also made a thank-you video to thank all the people who contributed to efforts.

“There are other fundraisers at the school with prizes like going in a limo,” said his mother. “But this is the one he cares about. The support he gets is amazing. He gets donations from people he doesn’t even know.”

Gavin does earn prizes for his participation in Jump Rope for Heart, but they are not his motivation.

“I don’t really aim to get a prize,” Gavin said. “I am aiming to cure heart disease. It’s because my (grandfather) and my uncle died of heart disease. That is the biggest reason,” Gavin said. “I think that they will cure heart disease, and I want to help out with that.”

The memory of his grandfather Mike McGuigan helps to build Gavin’s momentum.

“He was an amazing person,” Gavin said. “That is one word that I could use to describe him. He always played with me, and I really miss him. If I think about him, I can get really sad.”

Going into middle school next year, Gavin is unsure about his future with Jump Rope for Heart. But regardless of whether his new school participates in the program, he will be doing something to raise money for the American Heart Association.

“This is a lifelong goal for him,” Jennifer Gilliam said. “He will just find another way to help those with heart disease.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or

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