Skyridge jumps for heart health

Jump-a-thon proceeds to benefit American Heart Association
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Hundreds of kids from Skyridge Elementary School jump roped their hearts out as soon as the sound of “Surfin’ USA” blasted over the stereo. Fourteen classes, from kindergarten through third grade, were participating in Jump Rope for Heart. The jump-a-thon was held to raise money for the American Heart Association, Thursday. Kindergarten teacher Barbara Hackett has been organizing the event for 20 years. “It started because I used to be the P.E. mentor for the district for 20 years,” Hackett said. “If we are going to have a healthy mind, we have to have a healthy body first.” In the weeks leading up to the jumping spectacular speakers taught Skyridge students about the roles exercising and not smoking play in keeping their bodies healthy. Some students were even wearing badges in memory of loved ones who died from a heart-related complication. Michelle Rasmussen, of Lake of Pines, said her daughter Mercedes Martinez, 5, has been excited about Jump Rope for Heart. “She’s been saying mommy buy me a jump rope,” Rasmussen said. Martinez joined the rest of her classmates from Hackett’s class to jump along to music for half an hour. In other classes around the school, students learned how jump roping correlates to their heart health. “My mom taught me how to jump rope. It helps us get stronger because the heart pumps the blood,” said Hannah Mackay, 6, a first-grader in Mrs. Quail’s class. Justin Stilley, 6, who is in Mrs. Daly’s class, also couldn’t wait to get hopping. “I’m excited about it because I haven’t been jump roping in a long time. It makes you stronger and tougher,” Justin said. Students were also given small incentive gifts from the American Heart Association for the sponsorships they collected. Hackett said she estimated the kids raised between $1,500-$2,000 toward heart health and research. When the economy was better, $5,000 was the norm. According to Hackett though, it all adds up. “I figure over the years I have been doing this $50,000 has been raised,” Hackett said. “If everyone brought $5, think about how much we would raise. Doing this together is the message.” Reach Sara Seyydin at