The Texas State football team invited local private elementary school students to a day at the stadium after the students surpassed their fundraising goal for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
Wonderland Elementary students joined some of the Texas State football players April 24 on the field. The students were able to get a hands-on view of the life of a collegiate football player. The students spoke to the football players, got autographs, took pictures, enjoyed lunch and played football with the athletes. This day was dedicated to Wonderland school for their cooperation in raising money for the Heart Walk
The Heart Walk took place on April 14 at Texas State. Despite not being able to attend the event, the Texas State football team signed up as a team to fundraise money and set their fundraising goal at $5,000. With the help of Wonderland Elementary School, the team was able to surpass their goal.
Wonderland School raised $724 in just over a week. Zack Lucas, director of football operations, said the football program and Wonderland School raised $6522 together for the Heart Walk.
“We were the top fundraising team not just on campus but in all of Hays County,” Lucas said. “As a thank you for Wonderland’s huge contribution we invited all of their kids from kinder through 6th grade to come spend the day with some football players.”
The Wonderland School children got the full experience of being a college football player as gratitude for their fundraising contributions. They were able to run through the tunnel the football players run out from right before a game and then ran across the football field with some of the football players. The children got a sample warm-up session with the players, played around with footballs and went on a walkthrough of the locker room.
“We just wanted to show them some appreciation,” Lucas said. “I don’t think they understand the full impact of what they did yet, but just to see the look of appreciation and gratitude on their faces is indescribable.”
Football player Tyler Watts, a graduate student, said he really enjoyed having the kids be with them on the field and just play around and have a good time.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience for them,” Watts said. “If I were their age, this would be a dream come true.”
Wonderland partnered with Texas State’s football team because Lucas’s wife Meghan Lucas, first grade teacher at Wonderland, had just finished teaching her students a unit on the body and the heart. She found it very appropriate to involve her class and the school in a heart fundraiser.
“I asked the whole school if they wanted to join,” Meghan Lucas said. “Then one of the families said they would throw a pizza party to the class that raised the most money and that competition spread like wildfire.”
Meghan Lucas said Wonderland School teachers educated their students on why the AHA needs money and what the organization does. Moreover, they explained to the students the biggest issue as to why education on the heart is very important to know and why it is a worldwide epidemic.
“I think the students are learning very quickly how important it is to be healthy, be active, eat right and how to aspire to have big dreams,” Meghan Lucas said. “To be able to be a part of this is very inspiring and encouraging at such a young age.”
Meghan Lucas said it was exciting to see the students strive to raise as much money as they could. Students brought money they had from the tooth fairy and their piggy banks to help fundraise for the AHA.
“When Texas state honored them for their generosity at such a young age they were stoked,” Meghan Lucas said. “We felt really proud of how kind and generous their hearts were and they are being rewarded for that.”