Discovery at Kirkmere’s students and staff danced the afternoon away Thursday at the Have a Heart dance to raise money for math teacher Corissa Freeman’s 15-month-old daughter.
Lyla Freeman was born with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. She will have her second open-heart surgery and sixth surgery overall March 2 at Akron Children’s Hospital.
To replace the school’s annual Valentine’s Day dance, students and staff went to building principal Mesha Scott with the idea to do something big for Corissa Freeman’s family to ease the financial burden of Lyla’s surgery.
In next month’s operation, doctors will stop Lyla’s heart and put her on bypass before repairing two holes and her tiny pulmonary arteries. The surgery is expected to last eight hours.
“We had students, staff and community members step up and donate baked goods, and all the proceeds from that go to the Freeman family, and students are paying $2 to dance,” Scott said. “Today is simply all about Lyla.”
She added that the dance provided the perfect opportunity to teach students.
“We are trying to train them to think of others,” Scott said.
Students filtered in and out of the gym/dance party to donate spare change and money in their pockets, asking if they could donate more than the $2 admission.
Janet Halicki, math coach, said it was nice to see so many people involved.
“I have worked with Ms. Freeman for three years, and I just love her and her daughter,” she said. “Ms. Freeman is a great person, and she is so deserving of this.”
Not only were baked goods and chaperones for the fun donated for the dance, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center medical students donated their time to take students’ vitals – blood pressure and heart rate.
MCCTC student Sabrina Olsavsky said the dance was a “fantastic event for a tragic circumstance” that provided MCCTC students the opportunity for experience.
“It’s nice being able to see students get excited and take an interest in what we do, and having that awareness,” she said.
Students danced and raced back to have their vitals taken to try to raise and lower their rates.
“Who knew so many would be interested in getting their blood pressure taken?” said MCCTC student Becky Walker.
Corissa Freeman tearfully thanked her Discovery at Kirkmere family for dedicating the event to her daughter.
“I just really feel the love and the support of the staff,” she said. “They’re my family.”