McDuffie County's 2008 Heart Hero for the American Heart Association is Mary Lynn Evans. But the red-haired six-year-old has other things to think about besides the one centimeter hole in her heart.
"I'm getting some new teeth," Mary Lynn said, grinning to reveal three spaces in her gums.
The mysteries of the tooth fairy are a no-brainer for the bright little daughter of Butch and Kelly Evans of Thomson.
"She sees me every day trying to pull my teeth out," she said. "I like to pull my teeth out so I can get money."
Mary Lynn said she is saving her tooth fairy funds for a trip to Disney world. Although her Mom said the trip won't be for a couple of years, Mary Lynn is still planning. After all, she's already accomplished her goal for the annual Heart Walk.
According to the McDuffie County Heart Walk website, Mary Lynn has earned $55 more than her goal of $1,200 for the American Heart Association's signature fund raiser event.
According to the website, there are seven teams registered in McDuffie County, which have already raised over $16,000. Last year's event brought in slightly over $30,000 to fight America's single leading cause of death - coronary heart disease; and the third leading cause, which is stroke.
Mary Lynn's heart defect was discovered by Dr. Kenneth Dooley at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta when, prior to an unrelated medical procedure, he suggested a sonogram as a precaution because Mary Lynn's family has a history of heart trouble. Mrs. Evans said she is so thankful for that sonogram, as they would not have known of the trouble otherwise.
"Both of my children were born with perfect Apgar scores," she said. "And I am neurotic about health care and keeping up with their immunizations. This was just a total surprise."
If the hole remains when Mary Lynn is eight years old, she will require a heart catheterization and stint to prevent congenital heart failure. Mrs. Evans said they are praying for God to heal the hole before then.
"I'm not afraid of doctors," Mary Lynn said. "I've been a bunch."
And the diagnosis has not lessened her energy. Mary Lynn stays busy playing swimming games with her 4-year-old brother, David. The Maxwell Elementary first grader also sings in the children's choir at the First United Methodist Church of Thomson. And she happily twirls her baton as a member of Becky Mooreland's twirling brigade.
"I can twirl two at a time," Mary Lynn said. "Sometimes I hit myself in the head. It doesn't hurt, though."
Mary Lynn admits she doesn't really like school, especially spelling. But she loves to read chapter books. After school, she watches the baking channel to sharpen her skills in the love of baking that she shares with her Aunt Brandi.
Mrs. Evans said many of the donations to Mary Lynn's Heart Walk campaign came from family and Thomson Middle School, where her father is a teacher. To make a donation to Mary Lynn's, or any other McDuffie County walker's campaign, visit the webpage at http://.mcduffiecountyheartwalk.kintera.org. The Heart Walk will be from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 23 at Thomson Middle School.