'For Grandpa'

Third-grader raises record-setting total in honor of late grandfather

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Not all heroes wear masks and capes.

Some, like East Elementary School third-grader Brodey Gutierrez, wear rollerblade shoes and Lucky Charms T-shirts.

Brodey may not have stopped a criminal mastermind or leaped a tall building in a single bound, but he did accomplish a heroic feat -- raising a record-setting dollar amount for a worthy cause.

As part of the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart program, Brodey set a Moffat County School District record by raising $1,030, money that will be donated to the heart association for cardiovascular research and education.

He didn't take up the cause for the prizes -- his total makes him eligible to receive a scooter, air hockey table and a waterproof radio for swimmers. Instead, the soft-spoken 8-year-old raised the money for an entirely different reason.

"It was for Grandpa," Brodey said. "He had heart problems."

Brodey's grandfather, Dean Sprigg, of Gruver, Texas, died from heart failure in April 2004, when Brodey was 5 years old.

When Brodey learned of the fund raiser, he immediately targeted a $1,000 goal. His mother, Brenda Gutierrez, cautioned her oldest son about the lofty bar he'd set.

"His reason behind it was his grandpa," she said. "He wanted to see if he could get to $1,000. I told him the first day that $1,000 was pretty much out of reach and to just try to get as much as you can."

Brodey was undeterred. For a week, he scoured downtown Craig for a couple of hours after school, soliciting donations from local businesses.

Brenda gave Brodey rides to the businesses, but said he'd have to speak to potential donors on his own. Apparently, he is a good salesman.

Close to 100 people donated to Brodey's cause.

"He had to go and do it on his own," Brenda said. "I was surprised at how much he ended up turning in."

Brett Sperl, East Elementary School's physical education teacher, said the school has raised money for the heart association for five years. Students normally raise anywhere from $5 to $75 each for the program, and the school's total has ranged from $970 to $1,500, he said.

And then Brodey came along and "this kid breaks a record by himself," Sperl said.

Brodey's effort will most likely allow East Elementary to meet its $1,500 goal, thus making it eligible for a $100 allocation from U.S. Games, a Dallas, Texas athletic equipment company.

Sperl said the allocation money is earmarked for new P.E. equipment.

"I was really tickled," Sperl said. "We've never had a kid even come close to that. It's a record for this school, and I would think it would be a record for any school in this district."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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