“Jessica always raises money for the right reasons.”

Jessica Gates was honored by the American Heart Association for jump-roping her way to more than $3,000 in donations in a year for the non-profit. Jessica is just a fourth grade student, but was able to bring her total donations for the year up to a whopping $6,000.

Jump Rope for Heart events are hosted by the AHA at schools around the country in order to raise money for life-saving heart and stroke research, as well as community and educational programs. Jessica has been the top fundraiser for her school three years in a row, and clearly has enthusiasm for the campaign.

Her motivation– her grandfather, Bill Mantas. She claims all her hard work is inspired by him, and told news outlets she does it for “My grampie, he had heart surgery and he could have died and [I want] to help other people that have heart problems.”

The American Heart Association hopes to raise not only money, but awareness about one of the leading causes of death in the country.

Using a Competitive Spirit Towards Good

According to Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who founded the organization, “We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease.”

The association now has over 35 million volunteers, and is an immediately recognizable force for heart health around the world.

“[I’m] unbelievably proud of her. She’s not too difficult to inspire, she’s very self-motivated and she found some importance in the Jump Rope for Heart program,” said Kevin Novotny, her phyical education teacher. “Each year, she set a fundraising goal, and she wouldn’t stop raising until she hit it.”

Jessica is no stranger to competition–she enjoys playing sports like basketball, softball and football. However, with Jump Rope for Heart, the competition isn’t about winning, but raising money and awareness unselfishly.

“Jessica always raises money for the right reasons. She raises the money in order to help other people,” Novotny said.

Leading With Empathy

To secure donations, Jessica went online, with the help of her mother, and sent emails asking for support. To each email, they attached a photo of Jessica and Grampy, and sent them to everyone they could think of. Sponsors pledge to donate money for the amount their sponsee jump-ropes, and Jessica had some serious motivation to keep jumping.

When Grampy heard of Jessica’s achievement this year, his reaction made all of the hard work worth it. “He’s proud of me and happy,” Jessica told a news outlet.

Jessica clearly leads with empathy, and action, setting an inspiring example for everyone–not just other fourth graders. She has a serious drive to help others, and not just humans.

She already takes care of a dog, and even told a news outlet that she hopes to get two more in a few years. “I just want to take care of a few more dogs,” she said.

We can all take a cue from Jessica Gates and her thoughtful, selfless, spirit.