February 20, 2009
Posted: 11:49 PM ET
By COURTNEY CAIRNS PASTOR
Florida – The Hillel School raised more than $10,000 for the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which funds heart treatments for patients without adequate health insurance. Since the beginning of the school year, students stashed spare change in piggybanks, got pledges for a race they ran, and sold crafts, used books and baked goods.
Amy Wasser, head of school at the private Jewish education center, thought the $10,000 goal was out of reach. But families embraced it.
"With everyone coming together, we easily did it," she said. "I think it's an amazing message we taught these kids."
The payoff came in a chance to meet King, who has three grandchildren at Hillel, and see for themselves the difference they made. The cardiac foundation differs from other charities by linking donors with the people they help.
King said the personal connection is the most important one to him.
"It's so heartwarming," he said. "The whole concept of helping people is the best thing I do."
He brought his 10-year-old son, Chance, with him to Hillel because Chance hopes to inspire his Beverly Hills elementary school to hold a similar fundraiser. The foundation already is a family affair. His son Larry King Jr. is president and his wife, Shawn Southwick-King, is chairwoman.
Larry King Jr.'s three children attend Hillel, prompting the connection with the foundation. The senior King and Douchet toured the school before talking to students in an assembly, pausing in 5-year-old Stella King's kindergarten class to record a 30-second podcast to send to parents.
"I hope you all have a great day," King said on the podcast, "and I hope you take care of your hearts. Right, Stella?"
"Yeah," said Stella, who wore red suspenders as a nod to her famous relative's trademark fashion in a color that referred to his pet cause.
Larry King established his cardiac foundation in 1988 after surviving a quintuple bypass surgery the previous year. Someone had asked him the cost, which he hadn't thought about. When he researched it, he realized how unattainable the life-saving surgery would be without health insurance.
Filed under: Larry King Live
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