Six-year-old Meghan Schrade was recognize by the School Committee for her activities with the American Heart Association. Meghan was named this year's Art for the Heart Ambassador for Western Mass.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Meghan Schrade has spent much of her short life undergoing painful procedures for a heart condition.
Now the cheerful 6-year-old is a poster girl for the American Heart Association of Western Massachusetts and its Art For The Heart Ambassador.
Meghan, daughter of Tracy Bassette and William G. Schrade Jr., was also recognized by the School Committee for her efforts on behalf of the association in sharing her story.
Bassette said she had submitted Meghan's story to the Heart Association, which was seeking "Go Red Leading Ladies" with positive attitudes to help raise awareness among women about being heart healthy.
Meghan didn't make leading lady, but was instead selected as the 2013 Ambassador for Art for the Heart, a healthy heart educational and arts program for children. She's featured on a poster for the activity in a new red dress and professionally photographed in East Longmeadow like the Leading Ladies were.
She was chosen because "she has a passion, even at such an early age, to get the word out about heart disease and shares her story with all that listen," according to the assocation.
Meghan's been very open about the procedures she's gone through. She went through open heart surgery at 6 days old and is on her third pacemaker. She's talked to her classmates at Brayton Elementary and others about her heart issues and pacemaker.
"It helps her explain what it is that happened to her heart," said Bassette.
She's also a top fundraiser for the annual Jump Rope for Heart event organized by teacher Karen Daigle at Brayton. This year's event takes place on Monday.
"From what I hear she's probably going to be the top fundraiser again this year," said Mayor Richard Alcombright in introducing her to the School Committee on Tuesday. "I want to wish you continued good health and I want to wish you continued good work in all you do for the American Heart Association."
First-grader was at little shy despite a contingent of friends and family backing her up. She presented the mayor with a red ribbon lapel pin and answered a few questions.
"Are you looking forward to the jumping rope?" asked committee member Heather Boulger. "What's the best part about it?"
Meghan responded, "I get to jump rope with my class."
She will present the awards for the art competition on March 1 at the annual Go Red For Women Luncheon in Holyoke. The luncheon was set for Friday but postponed because of the Nor'easter bearing done on the state.
Bassette said it was difficult to determine what had Meghan more excited — the luncheon or getting a day out of school. With Friday's snowstorm, Meghan might end up with an extra day off.
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