CHICAGO, August 16, 2023 - A third grader at Olympia North Elementary School in Danvers, Illinois has been selected by the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, to serve as a volunteer national Youth Heart Ambassador for the 2023-2024 school year. Colton Loyer will work closely with the American Heart Association’s in-school programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ to actively and passionately champion other children to establish healthy habits to improve mental and physical well-being.

The American Heart Association accepted Youth Ambassador nominations from young people who were affected by heart disease or stroke. These youth either experienced a personal diagnosis, saw a loved one diagnosed or made a heart healthy personal lifestyle change.

Colton was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot before he was born and had to undergo open heart surgery at seven weeks old. The surgery repaired part of the hole in Colton’s heart and one of his valves. Colton will need additional surgery to further widen his heart valve as he gets older.

“Your heart is the only one you get, so you have to keep it safe,” Colton said.

The Youth Heart Ambassadors serve a one-year commitment as a volunteer for the American Heart Association supporting the organization’s mission to be a relentless force for healthier lives for all. The position gives youth a voice to encourage, advocate and raise critical funding as they share the impact cardiovascular disease has had on their life.

“Colton’s story is one of resilience in the face of adversity and the power of a strong sense of family and community,” said Amy Ensign, the American Heart Association’s director of development for school engagement. “We are excited to have Colton as one of our newest ambassadors and even more thrilled that youth in Illinois and all across the country will have someone as fantastic as him to look up to through the Kids Heart Challenge initiative.”

In addition to Colton’s national recognition as a Youth Heart Ambassador, three Illinois schools also received grants from the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge. This funding will support efforts to encourage physical activity and healthy habits in students. The three Illinois grantees are:

  • Bement Elementary School in Bement, Illinois
  • Grace McWayne Elementary School in Batavia, Illinois
  • Northmoor Primary School in Peoria, Illinois

Rooted in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ are service-learning programs that teach students how to improve their overall health while doing good for the health of others. Through interactive curriculums and various online challenges, participating students get active and have fun while raising funds and awareness for congenital heart defects, nutrition security, CPR training, mental well-being and more. These collective efforts help further the American Heart Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

Schools participating in either Kids Heart Challenge™ or American Heart Challenge™ receive expanded curriculum resources for both classrooms and in-home learning environments. Interested schools can register now for next school year. To learn more about our school programs please visit More information can be found online,



About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health, and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   


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