9-year-old island girl tops area fundraisers
A 9-year-old Port Aransas girl with heart disease bested every one of them. Conducting garage sales, bake sales and other homespun fundraisers over the past several months, Jade Mouton amassed $5,503.66.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, Jade was awarded the first-ever Dr. Jose Antoni Heart Award in a presentation before hundreds of onlookers taking part in the Heart Walk, a day of exercise and consciousness-raising activities held by the American Heart Association at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi.
"I was happy, and stuff like that," Jade said, when asked for comment a few days after the event. "It was cool."
The Dr. Jose Antoni Award was named for a Corpus Christi resident who worked for years as a volunteer for the American Heart Association, translating the organization's cardiopulmonary resuscitation literature into Spanish for distribution in many Latin American countries and conducting CPR training in those countries. Antoni died in September.
"The award is supposed to go to the person who best exemplifies our mission, and that was Jade," said Chris Cisneros, South Texas corporate market director for the American Heart Association. "Jade has gone out and not just raised money, but raised awareness."
Jade was the top individual fundraiser for Heart Walk, and her family - "Team Jade" was the top team earner.
Jade, the daughter of Kevin and Connie Mouton, first was diagnosed with heart problems at the age of 3. While she is able to take part in most activities children enjoy, she still has to take daily medication, must take care not to exert herself much and faces the possibility of heart surgery some day.
Jade's grandmother, Sandy Wolff of Port Aranasas, said the family is proud of her.
"Her mom and I - when they handed her the award, we just busted out crying, because she worked so hard," Wolff said. "She's just glowing about it."
Jade said her illness spurred her to raise so much money for the Heart Association.
"Since I have health problems, I want to help other kids with health problems," she said.
Few people realize that heart disease affects children as well as adults, Cisneros said.
"As shy as she was in the very beginning, she sure has come out of her shell," Cisneros said. "If you ask her questions about children and heart disease, she is quick to tell you everything she knows. She is an inspiration."
Jade was assisted in her fundraising efforts by her brothers and sisters: Dakota, 13; Kristen, 11; Hunter, 10; Skielar, 8; Leah, 5; and 4-year-old twins Xander and Ryder. Dakota, Skielar and Leah have heart disease, Wolff said.