Tishomingo boy raises money for heart research through annual shooting competition
12-year-old Wesley Hurst was born with multiple heart defects, having his first open heart surgery at three months old and another at six years old.
He's been the mascot for Tishomingo Elementary's Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser since he was in first grade.
"I wanted to do more because when I got out of elementary school, I didn't do jump rope for heart anymore," Hurst said. "I didn't want to stop there. I wanted to keep going."
Since Wesley had open heart surgery, he cannot play contact sports.
That is why he took up shooting sports.
He started the Shoot Out Heart Disease event to combine his love for shooting sports and his passion for helping other who have heart problems.
Shoot Out Heart Disease is now in its second year.
Shooters, like Jeremy Griffin, came from all over the region to raise money for the American Heart Association.
"(It's) something you don't see a lot of fundraisers for anymore, other than the school fundraisers," Griffin said. "I think it's wonderful."
Chad Short and his 11-year-old son came from Allen, Oklahoma.
"I like to shoot," Short said. "When you can combine this with a charity to help out the American Heart Association, I think that's a win/win for everybody."
Wesley's mother, Jami Hurst, said her son raised more than $3000 in donations this year, all of it going to the AHA to help with research on heart disease and defects.
"So anything today is above and beyond what he raised last year," Jami Hurst said.
Wesley is scheduled for another heart surgery in April.
Because of research done by the AHA, this new procedure will go through a vein in Wesley's leg to replace his outgrown heart valve and will not require opening the heart cavity.