Emerson Elementary students participate in annual Jump Rope for Heart event


Jumping, hopping, skipping and bouncing.

That’s how students at Emerson Elementary School recently raised $14,114.40 for the American Heart Association.

On Thursday and Friday, students in kindergarten through fifth grade spent 90 minutes in the gym participating in a variety of heart-healthy exercises for its annual Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser.

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Organized by physical education teacher Sharon Wood, the event is a way for students to learn about fun ways to be healthy and at the same time raise money to help people fight heart disease.

For two weeks, students collected donations from family, friends and neighbors. Depending on how much money the students raised, they earned various prizes, including jump ropes and T-shirts.

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

The top three students bringing in the most money were siblings Ariel Seabolt, first grade, with $1,350.68; Ethan Seabolt, third grade, with $1,078.77; and Gabe Seabolt, fifth grade, with $1,005.

A total of 39 students raised $100 or more.

Wood has served as a Jump Rope for Heart coordinator for Seymour Community Schools for 32 years. She also is the PE teacher at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School, where she organizes the annual Walk for Heart. That event, which has children walking and doing physical activities on a course outside, is scheduled for April 8.

Knowing not all students like to jump rope, she came up with 26 stations that incorporated jumping and movement in some way. Kids could hopscotch, jump on pogo balls and pogo sticks, skip, compete in a sack race, sit and bounce on a big rubber exercise ball or do jump rope tricks.

“They get to choose which activities they want to do,” she said.

There also was a timed jump rope competition to see who could jump the most. After completing each station, students received an entry into a raffle drawing.

On Thursday afternoon, fifth-graders helped out their younger schoolmates by manning the stations and making sure they were doing the activities correctly. The older students took their turn jumping Friday.

This year, students also could sign up online for a separate health challenge, which Wood has been able to monitor to see how they are doing.

Ethan Seabolt said he liked everything about Jump Rope for Heart this year, from asking people to donate to all of the jumping activities.

His brother, Gabe, agreed but said the best part is getting to help people.

It took a lot of work to raise the most money in the school, but Ariel said she had a lot of fun, too. Her favorite activity Thursday was jumping on the pogo stick, which was a lot harder than it looked, she said.

“I like saving people’s lives,” she said. “But I’m tired after all that jumping.”

Ella Botkin loves jumping rope and raised $150. She did so in memory of her grandmother, Jamie Lauster, who passed away in July 2018 of heart failure.

“I wanted to try to save as many lives as I could,” Ella said.

Botkin’s mother, Miranda Lauster, said she was proud of her daughter’s efforts.

“We miss her tremendously,” Lauster said of her mother. “This really made Ella feel like she was doing something in her honor.”

Maddox Watts was excited about raising $122.73 to help people with heart disease.

“I also liked learning how to jump rope and doing something new to keep me healthy,” he said.

Siblings Issak Sorensen, 5, Hailey Sorensen, 7, and Peyton Croquart, 11, raised $50 each.

“I like being able to help children my age with heart issues,” Issak said.

For Hailey, the best part of Jump Rope for Heart is being able to save lives, she said.

“Every penny will help these people and maybe give them a second chance,” she said.

After learning $50 can save one person’s life through Jump Rope for Heart, Peyton said it makes it all worth it.

“It feels great knowing I was able to save one life,” she said. “I wish I could have done more.”

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