BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (WBOY) – Tennerton Elementary School students have been raising money for the American Heart Association since Jan. 4, and one student has really dedicated himself to the challenge.

The school held an assembly to kick off the “Kids Heart Challenge,” where they were asked to register before getting started. Once registered, they had challenges online to complete, like a CPR challenge. Students were then asked if they wanted to focus on being kind to others or if they wanted to be more active. The overall goal was for the students to raise funds, so they were asked to spread the word. Along the way, students receive prizes for how much money they raise.

As of Monday, the school itself has already raised $5,700 out of its overall goal of $10,300. This overall goal was the amount of funding raised the last time that Tennerton Elementary took part in the fundraiser. The idea to start back up again after the COVID-19 pandemic came about when principal Tristen Gray was attending the Principals Academy. He said the American Heart Association had asked them to participate, and so they did.

Thomas Loudin, an eight-year-old third grader, has contributed over $1,000 of the total amount raised so far. He has learned hands-only CPR as well as how to recognize signs of a stroke through his challenges. When Thomas receives donations of more than $25, he learns a song on the piano and practices to play them over social media. Thomas’ mother, Katie Loudin, posts the videos as a “thank you” from Thomas for donating. Loudin said, “it’s important to me that he use his own resources, time and work ethic to contribute to what he could toward reaching this goal.”

Thomas told a 12 News reporter that playing the piano is fun for him, and it is like a gift for everyone’s donations. His father and grandmother taught him how to play the piano while growing up. As of Monday, they only had seven more videos to make for those who had donated, out of the overall 28, but he said that his favorite song to learn to play so far was “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.

He added that it makes him feel happy to be helping, saying, “it feels really good to, like, help people, like, get better so like they won’t get sick, and they won’t, like, you know, pass away.” He wanted to thank his mom for helping him get to where he is in his journey and hopes that the people he is raising money for have a good life.

Meredith Ratliff, the physical education teacher, said, “I think it’s great that we are starting at such a young age to show them what this means to give back to others. And just to make them aware that there are people, you know, who have conditions that affect their daily life, and I think it makes the students mindful of that.”

Aside from the funds, Ms. Ratliff loves that they did the challenges of being kind and active because it not only teaches the students that they need to help others, but it also teaches them to take care of their own bodies, preventing what they can.

If you are interested in donating, you can do so until Feb. 3 by checking out the Thomas Loudin’s “Kids Heart Challenge” donation link here.