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By Julie Noyes
RANGELY | No one would guess by looking at spunky third-grader Alivia Green of Rangely that at two weeks of age she was diagnosed with Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA) and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). CoA is a narrowing of the aorta, the large blood vessel which branches off the heart and delivers oxygen-rich blood to the body. VSD is a hole in the part of the septum that separates the ventricles, the lower chambers of the heart. Instead of flowing into the aorta as it should, a VSD allows oxygen-rich blood to flow from the left ventricle into the right ventricle. At five weeks old, Alivia had a lengthy open heart surgery at Children’s Hospital in Denver to mend her heart.
So when Parkview Elementary’s physical education teacher, Jamie Trusa, organized his third annual Jump Rope for Heart event on Feb. 15 to raise money for the American Heart Association, Alivia knew it would have a special place in her heart. Jump Rope for Heart helps teach kids healthy habits and funds research for children born with congenital heart defects.
“This event raises awareness and gives our students an opportunity to be part of a great cause! During the three weeks students had to prepare, they designed a routine and then needed to have it approved by me if they wanted to be part of the Jump Rope for Heart event. The kids have a blast every year and always exceed my expectations. I am always very proud of these kids and constantly get to see them improve and grow! I started giving the Heart Hero Award last year for the kid that inspired me the most. This year’s winner was Alivia Green and last year’s was Laurie Ward.”
Alivia and her friends, Peyton Kendall and Jasmine Preciado, decided that they’d choreograph a special jump rope routine complete with hula hoops and dance moves. Parkview’s Jump Rope for Heart raised $4,200, but Trusa estimates they’ve raised about $15,000 in the three years he has been here.
As Alivia races past fellow athletes both on the soccer and softball fields, as she dances and swims and plays with her cousins, her mom Bethany Green shares, “I feel so fortunate that this was her first and possibly her last heart surgery. There is always the possibility of the aorta re-narrowing, but after her last echocardiogram the doctor was pleased with what he saw. She wasn’t given many restrictions, if any at all, after surgery or into childhood. It has been such a blessing getting to watch her grow into such a fun-loving, sassy young lady. She is so compassionate towards others and loves life!”