By Keith Skenandore, reporter
This year’s Jump Rope for Heart at the Black Creek Elementary School will have special meaning as the students raise funds for the organization.
The students will be jumping for Payton Miller, a first-grade student at the school who had open heart surgery on Monday, November 10.
Miller, 6, has a whole in his heart bigger than the size of a quarter, and it is to be sewn shut by doctors at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.
The kick-off event held on Monday, Nov. 3, was an emotional happening as representatives from the American Heart Association, along with Payton’s family members, and “Ace”, mascot of the Green Bay Gamblers were present.
Students were informed how they could raise money and what prizes they could receive for their fundraising efforts, and told that Payton Mill is why.
Linda Schmidt, Payton’s mother, said the doctors planned on placing a stent, a small mesh tube used to treat narrow or weak arteries, but the walls of his heart are too thin.
Miller was born with an atrial septal defect (ASD) which is a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart. It wasn’t until Sept. 17 when he went to the dentist due to a toothache that the anesthesiologist heard the heart murmur.
He would see his regular doctor until they decided to send him to Milwaukee.
“I started bawling instantly,” said Linda, once the Milwaukee doctors said he would need surgery. “Every mother wants their child to be perfect, nothing wrong with them. To find out there is something wrong with my son is heartbreaking,”
As for Payton, Linda said he is not afraid.
“He’s very strong about it,” she said. “He’s ready to get it done to be healthy again.”
Any nervousness that he may have had were gone as he had his spirit lifted with the kick-off celebration.
Physical Education and Health teacher Crystal Helm took it one step further. She said that Payton, due to his surgery, would not be able to participate in the school’s Christmas program and that he loved one specific song.
So she, along with Payton, sat on the gym floor and sang “Thank God for Kids.” The emotions ran high as family, friends and faculty had tears in their eyes.
Payton has a sister, Alexis, 8, and dad Rob Miller, who, along with Linda, will stay in Payton’s hospital room throughout the duration of his surgery and recovery period.