Rachel's Challenge: Colleyville Elementary



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Posted on February 19, 2011 at 12:27 AM

Updated Saturday, Feb 19 at 8:37 PM

COLLEYVILLE- When a fire destroyed a Colleyville home an unlikely group stepped up to help the family.

They were just nine years old, in the fourth grade, but with a big hearts and good intentions. They were taking part of Rachel's Challenge.

"It was 4:32 in the morning,” said Todd Heemsbergen, fire victim. “I'll never forget that time as long as I live"

Heemsbergen said the day he watched his home burn to the ground was like a dream. It all happened fast that January morning. Heemsbergen and his two sons were sleep when the smoke alarms went off.  A light inside a bedroom closet had sparked the fire that spread from the attic and went through the Colleyville home. The Heemsbergens got out with their lives, but not much else.

“I was just thinking this is going to be a long day,” said nine year old Tanner Heemsbergen.

That long day was part of a long year. Tanner was seriously injured last summer in a motorcycle crash. Tanner and his older brother Tyler race motocross.

"On Monday, when I pulled up to meet the people doing the tear down, I sat here thinking all these years,” said Heemsbergen.

When Tanner returned to school his friends could not believe what had happened.

“I came with my backpack, had a lot of ashes on it, and everybody was like what happened, and I was like my house burned down,” Tanner said.

What happened next was even more surprising.

“We wanted to do something to help him, cause it’s really hard when your house burns down.” said Rylee Hanna, Tanner’s classmate. “So we came up with this idea to have a bake sale.’

Colleyville Elementary takes part in Rachel's Challenge an initiative that emphasizes kindness. The fourth grade class made posters and enlisted help from parents.

“When he came, he was just amazed by what we were doing,” Hanna said.

The class filled tables with baked goods and set up in the yard of a home across from the school. Within an hour, the students had made nearly $2,000. Money the family needed to replace clothes and daily essentials. Tanner’s father thought it was an amazing act by a group of fourth graders.

"It kinda puts your life in perspective,” Heemsbergen said.

Colleyville Elementary has been a part of Rachel's Challenge for several years.

Rachel's challenge is named after Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine shootings. She wrote about starting a chain reaction of kindness and the idea that one good deed can lead to another.

Email: jmccaa@wfaa.com