Youngster gives back in heart fundraiser

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Gabbie Brewer, 11, tries double-dutch jump rope for the first time Thursday during Jump Rope for the Heart at Zia Elementary School. Brewer had heart surgery when she was 2 weeks old due to a restricted heart artery, and doctors never thought she would b

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Gabbie Brewer is a normal 11-year-old girl. She enjoys playing sports and dancing. But Gabbie Brewer had heart surgery when she was 2 weeks old, and the doctors never dreamed she would be able to jump rope for the Heart Association every day during gym class.

Gabbie was born with a restricted heart artery and had to be airlifted to Albuquerque. Angie Brewer, Gabbie’s mother, was told by doctors that her daughter only had a 50 percent chance of surviving the surgery.

Though Gabbie was too young to remember how she felt at the time of her surgery, she knows that her life was saved by a doctor. And to say thanks, she participates in Jump Rope for the Heart, a fundraiser for the American Heart Association, at Zia Elementary.

“We raise money for kids like me, almost dying because their heart is going out,” said Gabbie, as she sat with her hands folded in her lap on her living room couch.

Angie Brewer said Gabbie got involved in Jump Rope for the Heart on her own.

“I’m just really proud of her,” the mother said as she looked at her daughter sitting next to her.

Angie said her daughter collected the most money at her school last year and has high hopes for this year. Gabbie said she enjoyed collecting the donations.

“It’s fun to go out and ask them (to donate), and it touches me that they give to the Heart Association,” Gabbie said. “You’d think you’re just jumping to jump, but if you look closer, you are jumping for other people.”

The deadline to donate for Jump Rope for the Heart is Feb. 22, according to Zia’s physical education teacher Voni Foster.