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A child doesn't let heart problems break her

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HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) -- "You hear people talking about their children getting sick, it still hasn't really resonated that it's happened to my child," Kimberly Fisher explained. We've gone through the motions. We've done everything we need to do for her, but I don't think its really hit home."

But it hit her family hard. Just moments before a medical team air lifted Kimberly's daughter, Riley, to the hospital, Kimberly said she thought it was going to be a normal day. "On October 28th, Monday, she came into my room and said she was sick."

Kimberly did what most parents would do and decided to stay home with her child. It didn't take long for Riley's condition to worsen and she began having seizures. Kimberly couldn't make it to the hospital on time and New Hanover Regional Medical Center sent a helicopter to meet her on their route.

"She received an emergency pacemaker the next day," Kimberly said.

The days, weeks and months to follow were emotional, even hard to believe at times. Her happy, healthy always active cheerleader and gymnast was now one of just six children in the state to have an adult pacemaker.

It doesn't seem real to Riley either. "I don't understand that there is one in me. I can't get it through my head that I actually have one," she admitted.

But she doesn't let it get her down. Riley's brother talked candidly about how scared he was to lose his sister, yet through it all, she remained optimistic. She's "happy, not sad, caring," Brody said.

Not to mention moving...as much as she can. She's looking forward to starting modified gymnastics and dance soon. Yet always needs to be careful as she could never take a direct hit to the chest. She still has fun with other children though and loves jumping rope.

She said her jumping skills have changed though. "They used to be good, but they're not as good anymore." Her brother disagreed and said his sister jumps better than he does.

Tomorrow they'll join the rest of the students from South Topsail Elementary to take part in Jump Rope for Heart to benefit the American Heart Association. Riley alone raised $1,700 for the fundraiser. Her brother even set up a website to raise money in honor of his sister's health battle.

They both want to help other children like Riley; some are in worse condition than she is and she knows it. She wants them to feel the love she felt from the Hampstead community.

And if you're wondering what caused her condition. Doctors say strep throat is to blame. In children, it doesn't always show up as a sore throat; instead it can come in the form of a fever or stomachache. And there may have been a time she went untreated simply because know own new she needed an antibiotic. And that's when the antibodies attacked her heart.

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