(This article was written by Geneva School of Boerne senior Emma Russell who co-chaired the 2021 Hoops for Heartland event at Geneva with senior teammate Riley Tippit.)
Geneva School of Boerne began a special connection with Boerne’s Heartland Children’s Home, a foster home for medically fragile children, about nine years ago. Most of the children there are severely medically challenged from birth, having suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, shaken baby syndrome or debilitating illnesses.
Heartland’s founder, Ruth Schwartz, is a nurse who had initially planned to adopt one or two children. Thirty years later, Heartland has fostered and provided 24/7 professional care for 600 children. This noble organization requires significant resources.
To assist in this effort, Geneva’s Rhetoric School hosts a “Hoops for Heartland” charity basketball event each year. Fans are encouraged to buy t-shirts, purchase game tickets and bring donated items, with all proceeds going to Heartland. The event raised $6,100 this year. The varsity and JV basketball teams have also toured Heartland to visit with the children (in non-COVID-19 years).
I remember hearing about this annual basketball event during my freshman year and quite frankly, I had no idea why it was considered so important. I will never forget my first visit to Heartland with Geneva. Upon hearing about the deep sacrifices—both financially and physically—that Ruth and her husband made over the years, I wondered what led them to make such a seemingly drastic and life-changing decision. It took me about five seconds to realize why.
Just moments after Ruth’s daughter Dawn Terrazas, Heartland’s Business Manager, introduced herself to our group, an audible laugh and screech of wheels could be heard by all. A little boy on a PVC-pipe walker came darting into the room followed by a running nurse. This little boy’s name was Bernie, also known as “Big B”.
Bernie had an issue with his legs and couldn’t walk on his own. He was easily the least impaired child at the facility. However, one thing I noticed that all these children had in common was the joy they exuded through their beaming smiles that could light up the darkest room. Bernie was overjoyed to see us and began traversing the room saying hello to everyone. He is the perfect embodiment of the reason why Ruth and her husband have dedicated their lives to these children.
It is unfortunate that these children could be seen as among the most insignificant persons in society. Yet, I have never experienced something so powerful as their joyful demeanors and pure hearts. They are anything but insignificant. The challenges they face are immense, yet they carry on with genuine smiles glued to their sweet faces.
After a visit to Heartland, all the worries of the world seem pale in comparison. I always leave those visits to Heartland with an overpowering desire to give back to these children in exchange for the joy they have given me. Our humble fundraiser strives to make life a little easier for these precious children and their caregivers.
If you would like to find out more about Heartland Children’s Home in Boerne and how you can help, please contact Heartland Business Office Manager Dawn Terrazas at 830-833-5575.