Labor of love: Westfield siblings raise thousands of dollars for American Heart Association 


For elementary school students in Westfield, “have a heart” is more than simply a saying about kindness.

This year, Shamrock Springs Elementary School became the top school in Indiana for the third consecutive year in fundraising as part of the American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge, raising $51,000 for AHA research while promoting body wellness, mental health wellness and skills for a healthy lifestyle.

Siblings Reagan and Rowan Detzler led the way in this year’s fundraising challenge. Reagan, 9, a third-grader, and her younger brother Rowan, 6, a kindergarten student, raised just less than $4,000 each for the fundraiser, doing their part in the memory of their grandmother.

“My grandma had a heart attack, and all of that stuff helped her in the hospital to give her 30 extra years,” Reagan said. “They said that she would only get one extra year.”

Katie Detzler, the siblings’ mom, said her mother Karen Fanning had a heart attack at the age of 39 following a virus. The quick actions of a doctor who was nearby when her mother — who had no previous heart issues — collapsed on a walk 30 years ago led to the family’s deep understanding of the importance of heart health.

Karen Fanning died in September 2023.

“Reagan was actually the driving force behind it,” Detzler said of the fundraising effort. “My mom passed away right before the fundraiser started, the day after her 70th birthday. So, Reagan said, ‘Mom, I really want to raise a lot of money this year for the heart challenge in Grammy’s honor.’ So, I recorded her and sent it out to all of her friends to see if they wanted to donate.”

Detzler made personalized fundraising pages for Reagan and Rowan, then emailed the links to family and friends who helped raise funds.

“I kept seeing the donations come in, and when I added (Reagan’s and Rowan’s) together I said, ‘There’s something going on here,” said Christine DeCraene, a Shamrock Springs physical education teacher who organizes the heart challenge each year.

This was the eighth Kids Heart Challenge, previously called Jump Rope for Heart, held at Shamrock Springs. DeCraene said the AHA sets a goal for schools based on previous years, and this year Shamrock Springs had a goal of $44,000. The kids hit that goal, plus $7,000 more.

“This school is super compassionate, and our families go above and beyond anytime you ask for help you get more help than you ask for,” DeCraene said. “We’re in a special place, a really special school.”

DeCraene passes out the information to the students who take it home to their families each fall, and participation is voluntary. The kids simply register for the program and fundraise with guides from the website on how to reach out to family and friends.

shamrock springs students
Students of Shamrock Springs Elementary School celebrated their fundraising efforts with Principal Robb Hedges in May. (Photo courtesy of Westfield Washington Schools)

This year, DeCraene also enlisted the help of Principal Robb Hedges, who has heart disease. Hedges suffered a ministroke eight years ago, and recently had bypass surgery. This year, he made a video talking about his challenges that was shared with the students.

“It was a great educational opportunity,” Hedges said. “I can’t tell you how many times after my story was out, the kids would be getting on the buses and say, ‘Mr. Hedges, you have heart disease but you’re OK.’ Surgeries, lifestyle changes, whatever those sorts of things are, so that was a great opportunity for us to share some things that you can do to really help prevent. For me, it truly was genetic. I have a very strong family history of heart disease. It was good for the kids to hear a lot of those things you can do just to live a normal, healthy life.”

The fundraiser included a large heart-shaped obstacle course in the gymnasium at Shamrock Springs that the children got to run through while learning a little bit about the chambers of the heart and how it functions.

“It was around the whole gym,” Rowan said of the course that was one of his favorite parts of the fundraising program.

DeCraene said the challenge also teaches children that heart disease does not discriminate, and the students view videos throughout the challenge from survivors of all ages, even children.

“I share those stories with them, and I think it helps them see that a lot of people are born with heart disease,” DeCraene said. “It helps them see it in a different way, and we (teach) them that it’s helping kids and adults with special hearts.”

grandma and Reagan
Karen Fanning and Reagan Detzler regularly made “heart hands” when they were together. (Photo courtesy of Katie Detzler)

Importance of heart health

Each year, the American Heart Association hosts the Kids Heart Challenge to inspire and support whole body health.

Participating students engage in activities and education that encourages physical activity, eating a heart-healthy diet and avoiding tobacco. The program also teaches students that mental health and wellness can affect health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Through a wide variety of activities, students are taught how making a difference in their communities can improve emotional health.

The program also raises dollars that help save lives and raise awareness of the impact of heart disease and stroke in the United States.

According to the AHA, cardiovascular disease listed as the underlying cause of death accounted for 931,578 deaths in the United States in 2021, and heart disease and stroke claimed more lives in 2021 than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined.

Learn more about the American Heart Association and the Kids Heart Challenge at