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Elk Meadows One of Top Fundraising Schools for American Heart Association

Apr 07, 2016 04:52PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

South Jordan - In late February, Elk Meadows Elementary had already surpassed $9,000 and still was trying to reach its $10,000 goal of raising funds for the American Heart Association’s Jump for Heart program.

Elk Meadows is in the top 10 in the state in raising funds, said Cassidie Fenton, American Heart Association youth market director.

“In the 17 years they’ve participated, they’ve raised $138,584 to help people with heart disease and strokes,” she said.

Fourth-grader Chris Tysinger was last year’s and this year’s student who brought in the most donations.

“Last year, I brought in $325 and this year, $450. I just ask people to make donations online to save people with bad hearts,” he said. “My grandpa has had three heart attacks and I hope we can help him.”

Teacher and organizer Whitt Lovell said that last year more than $12,000 was raised. Like the students, he participates in the fundraising by throwing a dinner party where everyone contributes at least $10, including his wife who helps host the event.

“I’ve known people who need the help,” Lovell said. “My nephew was born with a hole in his heart and it takes tons of money to have surgeries to repair damage. He’s now older, married and has kids of his own. We want kids to know how they can help people survive and to learn to give and reach out to someone else.”

Students who raise at least $50 will have the opportunity to meet heart survivors and eat lunch with them, Lovell said.

Fenton said that the Jump for Heart program, usually held during February’s American Heart Month, is designed to educate students about eating healthily and exercising and raise awareness about heart diseases and stroke. It also is a chance to promote healthy lifestyles.

“We hope students are getting excited about exercising and find an activity they enjoy to keep their own hearts healthy,” Fenton said. “We’ve had about 65 percent of those who have come in personally know someone with a sick heart and wanted to be able to help them.”

Lovell agrees and teaches students jump-rope tricks so they can have fun trying them during the event.

“Some kids can just do these amazing tricks. It’s awesome to see them. I teach them in third grade during P.E. class as they’re usually good enough with the jump rope then to be able to learn them,” he said, then demonstrated back crossovers himself. 

He taught himself back crossovers in two hours while practicing in the garage years ago. Lovell has participated 16 of the 17 years, missing last year after a hip injury.

During the Feb. 24 event, students demonstrated midget jumps, cross to saddle, front, side, saddle, back, skier jumping, heel-to-toe polka and others in addition to long-rope jumping. Teachers, like Brad Perry, also participated.

“It’s good for the students’ health to keep moving, eat healthy and learn about keeping their heart healthy,” instructional aide Anna Reyes said, who, along with instructional aide Veronica Corleto, participated.

“We want students to stay active,” Corleto added.

Fourth-grader Bryn Peterson likes doing crossovers and midgets best.

“I jump rope at home and at recess, but today, I’m wanting to help people who have bad hearts by jumping,” Bryn said. “It’s a fun way to raise money for them and helps my heart when we do Jump for Heart.”

In addition to Elk Meadows jumping on Feb. 24, and other tracks repeating the activity on March 18, Monte Vista planned to hold its Jump for Heart events during the week of March 11. South Jordan Elementary will hold its Jump for Heart event on April 22 and Jordan Ridge on May 29.   

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