Stephens City, Va. - Bass-Hoover Elementary School is helping one of their own this holiday season.
Andrew Sayen is a kindergartener at Bass-Hoover Elementary, and the muscles in his heart are too thick. While most symptoms show around one's teenage years, Andrew’s have been severe since birth.
"He's always happy, always playful and goofing around. Just a real blessing," says his father, Dave Sayen.
When two Physical Education teachers, Dawn Seymour and Joe Burton at Bass-Hoover heard that Andrew needed heart surgery, they challenged the student body to raise 500 bucks. It was just enough money to cover the cost of a plane ticket.
"The first day we had a student - and I was kind of surprised - he brought in $100,” said Burton. “I was like, 'Ok, did he go and take this out of mom or dad's wallet?' And then when I called home, and asked his mother, she said no, that it was his money. It was truly heartfelt."
In only two days, they met their goal. But the donations kept pouring in even after that. Staff members tracked them on a heart that grew with each milestone.
To encourage students, with each dollar donated, classes were able to vote for staff members to dress up like characters from The Grinch.
I looked forward to Mr. Strong dressing up as Cindy Lou, because I’ve never seen a boy in dress,” said third grader Mekenna Southern.
In just 15 days, students raised over $5,400 for Andrew and his family. That averages about $100 a student.
"The outpouring of support, among the young students, and the teachers, and even the community in general, it's very humbling," said Dave Sayen.
Andrew's reaction to all this? It was that of a true five year old.
"I have fun everyday in school, but you know the one thing that I really don't like? Computer lab," he said with a grin.
And just like the Grinch, watching an entire community band together to help Andrew and his family - well it would make anyone's heart grow three sizes too.
Andrew and his family fly to Minnesota for surgery in February. If you want to donate to Andrew’s Heart Fund, click here: http://www.gofundme.com/4XDY2W.