BOLIVAR, Mo. – The power of community support helped Bolivar third-grader Moxie Garrison raise enough money for a heart surgery her family says is critical.

“We did know from the start something’s different with her,” said Marketa Garrison, Moxie’s mother. “When they did genetic testing, they find out she has a Marfan syndrome that really attacks every part of her body.”

Garrison said Moxie’s heart is larger than most kids and eyesight is impacted.

“She doesn’t have the stamina like most kids,” Garrison said. “She can’t run very much. Her feet are very long and narrow and her knees are pretty weak. She doesn’t have eyesight in her right eye after an operation. She ended up with infection in her eye and lost vision.”

The only way to improve Moxie’s life is through surgery. Garrison said the best option for Moxie is an operation called Personalised External Aortic Root Support (PEARS).

“It was a search for last year and maybe probably before to look at different options,” Garrison said. “We were looking at something less invasive. So far, the only places they do [PEARS] is in Europe, not just London, but all over Europe. it is supposed to be here in the United States. But because of COVID, everything slowed down.”

Because of Moxie’s past surgeries, the Garrison family was worried about the cost.

“We never could we raise that amount of money,” Garrison said. “We just cannot put it together.”

When the Garrison family asked for help, classmates, teachers and families came running.

“In a small town like Bolivar, people value coming together and supporting someone when someone is hurting,” said Courtney Stanford, Moxie’s teacher. “When I found that they were raising money, I just started sending it to our principal and teachers. This is something that’s very important in Moxie’s life, and we want her here with us.”

Between school and local fundraisers, the community raised over $110,000 for Moxie’s surgery.

“I don’t have to worry anymore about the fundraising amount,” Garrison said. “Now I can just focus on logistics and how to make my family move from here to London for six weeks.”

With all the support Moxie has received, she wanted to share her gratitude for her classmates.

“This week is I’m going to I’m giving every day I’m giving one person a little gift,” Moxie said.

Moxie will have a CT scan in April, with the hopes of undergoing surgery by early May. She is excited for what life will be like once she’s all healed. For her, that means more exercise.

“I will run as long as I desire,” Moxie said.