Fredericksburg Toddler Becomes National Ambassador!

for the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge™

By Michelle McLees, American Heart Association November 15, 2018

Fredericksburg, VA (November 13, 2018) — Students in schools across Virginia and around the country have a new way to move their bodies toward heart health, earn benefits for their schools and give back to their community this school year, and one local boy is leading the way.


Three year-old congenital heart defect survivor Finn Blumenthal, from Stafford County, has been selected by the American Heart Association to serve as a national ambassador for the new  Kids Heart Challenge™, which launched in September.  The education and fundraising program includes jump rope, basketball, dance and warrior (obstacle course) components. The Kids Heart Challenge marks the Association’s 40th year working in schools and meets the changing needs of today’s youth and educators by preparing kids for success through physical and emotional well-being.


Finn was born with multiple complex heart defects and underwent his first open heart surgery as an infant.  On September 14, 2017, after learning he was in congestive heart failure, he had a second successful open-heart surgery to save his life.


“Finn is not just here today, but thriving today, because of critical and very needed heart research. Even just ten years ago, he had no chance of survival,” said Finn’s mother Kelly Blumenthal. “We are grateful for each and every day to slowly get closer to finally having a cure.” 


Since 2016 Finn and his mother, Kelly, have visited elementary, middle and high schools throughout Virginia to promote the Association’s youth programs and inspire healthy living.   Kelly is also a social media influencer, with over 73,000 followers on her “PrayersForFinn” Facebook page, and uses that platform to raise funds and awareness.



The Kids Heart Challenge™ encourages heart-healthy behavior as students pledge to be more physically active, drink more water and do a good deed. For teachers, the Kids Heart Challenge™ offers four activations to get students’ hearts pumping:

  • Kids Heart Challenge™ Jump –Students learn about the many health benefits of jumping rope – it burns calories, build agility and increases bone density – while competing in challenges to complete the most jumps in a minute.
  • Kids Heart Challenge™ Hoops –Students aim, shoot, cheer and celebrate as they take the court for Kids Heart Challenge™ Hoops. It’s not only fun for them, it’s good for their emotional well-being.
  • Kids Heart Challenge™ Dance – Students get moving and laughing as they dance to the “Cha Cha Slide” or “Space Jam” and show off their hip-hop or Virginia reel skills. They’ll get plenty of physical activity while learning self-confidence, creativity and collaboration.
  • Kids Heart Challenge™ Warrior – The obstacle course craze hits schools with Kids Heart Challenge™ Warrior. Students will crawl, run and leap their way to a cardio-pumping great time as they dart through cones, fly over hurdles or tip-toe across the balance beam.


Kids Heart Challenge™ provides enhanced give-backs, direct contributions to schools and new curriculum for teachers supporting whole-child centered learning. Certificates to purchase physical education equipment from an expanded US Games catalog are available. Participating schools are also eligible to apply for the new grant program.  The enhanced Kids Heart Challenge™ curriculum includes a series of classroom-based physical activity plans and resources that support social and emotional learning. Teachers also gain access to OPEN (Online Physical Education Network) which provides physical education curriculum resources and physical activity programming.


Funds raised by the Kids Heart Challenge™ supports advocacy initiatives to keep physical education in schools, ensures kids have access to healthy foods and provides resources to advocate for CPR in school laws that ensure every student knows how to save a life. Since 1949, the Association has funded $4.1 billion in research since 1949 and currently funds 2,000 scientists around the United States.


More information about Kids Heart Challenge™ is available online at Educators and Kids Heart Challenge™ coordinators may also join the new Kids Heart Challenge™ Facebook group at to share stories, best practices and successes.  To learn more about other school programs, or to make a donation to the American Heart Association, please visit




About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.