Gabe Wright, a fifth grader at West Elementary in Independence, was born six weeks premature and spent two weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
"He has overcome some obstacles. We had to hold him back a year. He went to junior kindergarten, and he has issues with reading and comprehension," said Amy Wright.
Because of his own experience, Gabe feels strongly about doing his part to help fund research through the March of Dimes to prevent premature birth.
"Last year Gabe took a coin purse and went around our neighborhood and collected $20, and this year I said Gabe what do you want to do," said Amy Wright.
This year, he put cans in 20 classrooms at West Elementary and asked the students to donate loose change.
"My mom gave me the idea. First I thought for the class, and my teacher Mrs. Schaffer thought for the whole school," said Gabe Wright.
Teacher Tia Schaffer was quick to jump on board with Gabe's fundraiser because her own daughter was born premature 28 years ago.
"I've seen a lot of changes with Gabe in the classroom. He's become a leader and a mentor. So I know Gabe is going to grow up and do great things," said Tia Schaffer.
Gabe Wright's goal was to raise $75 for the 75th Anniversary of the March of Dimes. In about a month's time, the students at West Elementary raised $302. Gabe's fifth grade class alone raised $104.
"They were very generous. Some of my friends donated $10, and my friend donated $30," said Gabe Wright.
Besides inspiring his classmates to get involved, Gabe's premature birth also inspired his mom to go back to school to become a labor and delivery NICU nurse. Needless to say, she's proud of all her son has accomplished so far.
"Even an 11-year-old can change the world. I think that's what we've all learned," said Amy Wright.
Gabe Wright took the money to March of Dimes when he participated in the March for Babies on Sunday, April 28th in Cedar Rapids. This was his eighth walk, and he's only 11 years old.