BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - Students at Brookland Middle School rallied behind a classmate and wore red to honor him Friday.
Colten Romines is a 5th grade student at Brookland and he has a congenital heart defect.
Colten has gone through more than most kids his age have had to handle.
"He has had multiple procedures. He had three open-heart surgeries before he was one. By the time we had gotten to our most recent heart doctor, he had 10 procedures by the age of three," mother Carries Romines said.
Romines said her son does not let his heart defect slow him down.
"He really wants to make sure his heart condition doesn't define who he is but that he defines himself, not by his heart but by his acts. He does really well at that," Romines said.
His friends also help Colten live life to the fullest.
"It doesn't slow him down, he does what he can. He gets out, plays with his friends, and does normal things that boys do. He just sometimes can't keep up but his friends are extremely exceptional at accepting that," Romines said.
When the Romines family came to Brookland, there was not an American Heart Association chapter in the area, so they decided to bring awareness themselves.
"We started doing what we could locally as a family and then we started a change drive and raised well into the thousands," Romines said.
The change drive quickly grew and other community events started to raise money and awareness for heart disease.
"We went from not being recognized as a community here in Brookland to being the top ranked Middle School in the entire state of Arkansas for grossing volume," Romines said.
Romines said many people do not know how widespread heart disease is in children.
"More children are affected by congenital heart defects than all children with cancers combined," Romines said.
Romines cannot thank the Brookland community enough for supporting her family, her son and others with heart disease.
"I am just really impressed with the love this community shows. They have watched Colten go through these procedures," Romines said.
Friday was National Wear Red Day but all of February is National Heart Awareness Month so Brookland will continue to show their support throughout the month.
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