Local 5-year-old to hula hoop for hearts Feb. 23

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

A local 5-year-old wants to make a difference by hula hooping for hearts.

Ellie Kate Fontenot walked into her classroom one day and told her teacher, Alicia Goodwin, that she wanted to make a difference

but wasn’t sure how, her mother Nikki Fontenot said.

“Ellie Kate told Ms. Goodwin, ‘My

sister makes a big difference and I’m not making a difference,’ ” Nikki

said. “Ms. Goodwin

told Ellie Kate that she needed to figure out what she was good at

or what she could do that could be used to make a difference.”

Nikki said after Ellie Kate threw out a

few different ideas. She said, “I can hula hoop ... I can hula hoop for

people’s hearts.”

Ellie Kate’s sister is 8-year-old Maci Fontenot, who started Maci Fest to raise money for children with cancer after she was

diagnosed with optical glioma — a tumor growing through her left optic nerve — at the age of 4.

“This is simply the idea of a little girl who wants to make a difference,” Nikki said. “For Ellie Kate, it’s about helping

others, and for us as parents it’s about Ellie knowing that anyone can use whatever they’ve got to make a difference. Everyone can do something.”

Nikki said the goal for the inaugural Hula Hoop for the Heart is for her daughter to see that her ideas are in place and that

she is making the difference she wants to make.

“We don’t have a goal for the event since it is the first time we’re doing it,” Nikki said. “We really just want to give Ellie an outlet to make a difference and just keep it simple. After we see how this year’s event goes and then we can go from there for future events.”

Ellie Kate said she “can’t wait” to do all her hula hoop tricks at the event.

“I can hula hoop on my knees and then stand up,” she said. “And I can even jump and twirl the hula hoop around and walk while I hula hoop. I wish I could do a cartwheel with it.”

Hula Hoop for the Heart is scheduled 9-11 a.m. Feb. 23 in the Episcopal Day School gym, 803 N. Division St.

The event will include a hula hoop obstacle course, a hula hoop dance off, concessions and entertainment by Young Band Nation.

Funds raised will benefit the American Heart Association and Dr. Mudar Kattash of Pediatric Cardiology SWLA.

Registration at the door costs $5.