Happy, healthy hearts: School raises funds for American Heart Association

More than 600 students at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School in Seymour boosted their heart rate Wednesday morning in support of a cause that promotes healthy and happy hearts.

The school participated in the annual Walk for Heart event to show kindergarten through fifth grade students the importance of staying active and keeping the heart healthy.

The large field just south of the school was filled with various exercises and activities, including jumping jacks, running and tossing balls back and forth, with the help of Seymour High School volunteers.

“I have been doing this since my sophomore year, and I just love the kids and helping them stay active,” senior Liza Stuckwisch said.

It all started with Jump Rope for Heart, which was first organized 30 years ago.

As the school continued to grow, they decided they would be able to have more kids involved in the fun and support by evolving into Walk for Heart with the proceeds still going to support the American Heart Association.

Throughout the years between the two programs, the students have raised around $150,000, physical education teacher Sharon Wood said.

“The kids are proud to be involved in this fundraiser, and with what we have been able to raise, it teaches the kids that every little bit adds up over time,” Wood said.

The day started with Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson reading a proclamation declaring March 29 Walk for Heart Day in the city of Seymour before joining the kids out on the field with Sammy the Seymour Owl.

“This is such a great reminder for kids to stay active and healthy while also supporting a great cause,” Nicholson said.

As students ran or walked to each station, they had an exercise or an activity to perform, and they would be rewarded with a smiley face to move on to the next station.

At the stationed manned by Stuckwisch and senior Marlo Cornn, the students had to throw a ball up in the air and catch it at least five times before moving on.

“It’s nice being with the kids and doing something we all enjoy,” Cornn said.

“We reward them by drawing little smiley faces on their hands, and sometimes, they want to draw on us,” she added with a laugh.

Besides exercise stations, the students were quizzed on their knowledge of health and the heart at some stations.

Music teacher Jen DeFriece and computer labs teacher Angela Prewitt quizzed the students on health, sports and heart knowledge, helping the kids learn ways to stay active and healthy.

This cause comes with a personal connection for DeFriece as her daughter suffers from a serious heart condition. While there is no cure for her daughter’s condition, she said the American Heart Association has been a major support in helping her daughter prolong her life.

“It’s good to support something like this because it lets the kids know that they are helping real people. It helps people like my daughter,” she said.

Prewitt said this is her second time getting involved in this event, and she loves seeing the kids learn about healthy lifestyles.

“It teaches the kids all the exercises to keep your heart healthy,” she said.

This year’s school goal was to raise at least $2,000, and by the end of the donating period Wednesday, students ended up raising $3,379.86 to support the American Heart Association in saving lives.

The school gave special recognition to the top three donors. The students who raised $100 or more will have the chance to throw a pie in the face of Assistant Principal Curt Schleibaum.

While the kids ran around outside, the energy never left the school grounds as students celebrated Rock Your School Day in collaboration with the Walk for Heart event.

This year’s theme was baseball, and many faculty members dressed in matching orange and white baseball jerseys to teach the children.

Classrooms were decorated with balloons, streamers and all things related to the American pastime. Even the lessons including math and English were centered around the theme.

“With Rock Your School Day being on the same day as the fundraiser, we have some baseball-related exercises for the event,” Wood said.

With another activity-filled day in the books, the students left school that day with a successful fundraiser supporting healthy and happy hearts.

Top three student donors: 

1. Ryker Hunsucker with $500

2. Serenity Nixon with $341

3. Aiden Hart with $212.86

People who raised $100 or more: 

Serenity Nixon

Darion Tatlock

Jillian Russell

Cami Russell

Lucian Seville

Aiden Hart

Sarah Miller

Kevin BoJose

Brody Duggan

Noah Campos

Mark Perez Lopez

Ryker Hunsucker