Roping ’em in

When it comes to being healthy and helping others, students at the smallest of Seymour Community School Corp.’s five elementary schools have some big hearts.

In the school’s 12th year of participating in Jump Rope for Heart, Cortland students in kindergarten through fifth grade raised $8,713.51 for the American Heart Association, with the fifth-grade class raising nearly half, collecting $4,038.

The American Heart Association is a nonprofit organization that increases awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke and raises money for care, research and prevention related to heart disease.

The amount was slightly down from last year’s record-setting $9,604.40, but it’s still pretty impressive for a school with an enrollment of 126 students.

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In 2015, students collected $5,714 for a three-year total of $24,031.91.

Other Seymour elementary schools that participate in Jump Rope for Heart are Seymour-Jackson, Seymour-Redding, Emerson and Margaret R. Brown. The program started at Brown about 20 years ago.

Students at Brown will participate in a Walk for Heart event April 10.

For their efforts, Cortland students were rewarded with a half day of fun jump rope activities Monday in the school gymnasium. Students in kindergarten, first and second grades jumped for two hours in the morning, and the other grades jumped in the afternoon.

Different jumping stations were set up, and students could rotate through them at their own pace. They could use single ropes and jump on their own or try their hand at double dutch, where two ropes are turned at the same time. There also were stations for long jump and doing the limbo.

The top three Heart Heroes, or students who raised the most money, were fifth-grader Kylie Eglen, who brought in $3,225; third-grader Jenna Boknecht, who collected $506; and third-grader Nathan Fritsch, who raised $275.

A total of 43 students raised at least $50.

Eglen, who raises the most each year with the help of her grandmother, Mary Eglen, said she’ll miss Jump Rope for Heart next year when she graduates to the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center.

“People are always so nice and want to give money,” Kylie said. “There are a lot of people who know someone with a heart disease and want to help.”

This year, Kylie said she had one person write her a check for $500.

“I had to ask them to make sure it wasn’t a mistake,” Kylie said.

The Eglens spent about three weeks before Monday’s Jump Rope for Heart event collecting donations from family, friends, neighbors and anyone else willing to contribute.

Kylie was able to raise about $1,500 more this year, she said.

Fourth-grader Saige Plummer said she looks forward to Jump Rope for Heart every year.

“You get to spend time with your friends and try new things with jump ropes, like tricks,” she said. “My favorite is jumping with a partner.”

Sydney Montgomery, a fifth-grader, raised what money she could because the American Heart Association is a good cause, she said.

“It feels good to raise money for people who might need heart surgery so they can get better,” she said.

Sydney’s brother, Seth, also a fifth-grader, said he enjoys the physical aspect of the event. He made sure to get his fair share of jumping in Monday.

“I like to exercise, and we don’t have to be in the classroom learning,” he said of why he enjoys Jump Rope for Heart.

Parent Molly Marshall used the event to both volunteer her time to help oversee the students jumping and to find out what schools might need to provide healthier environments for kids.

Her daughter, Claire Marshall, is a fifth-grader at Cortland.

Marshall, who works for Healthy Communities through Columbus Regional Health, recently was appointed Jackson County’s Healthy Community Champion with Purdue Extension Jackson County.

She is responsible for working with the community to put strategies in place and build partnerships that will focus on obesity reduction and prevention in the county.

Jackson County is sharing a $1.15 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with Lawrence County to reduce the obesity rate, which is one of the highest in the state.

“We have to support a healthy environment and healthy thinking at a young age, and we have to make it fun,” Marshall said. “If it’s not fun, then kids aren’t going to be interested.”

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The top three Heart Heroes, or students who raised the most money for Cortland Elementary School’s 12th annual Jump Rope for Heart, were fifth-grader Kylie Eglen, who brought in $3,225; third-grader Jenna Boknecht, who collected $506; and third-grader Nathan Fritsch, who raised $275.