Students Rise Up to Kids Heart Challenge

Since 1996, Lee Elementary students have participated in the challenge that teaches them about living a healthy lifestyle as well as keeping their hearts strong. During those years, they’ve raised more than $575,000 to help save lives.

“We talk in class about keeping our hearts healthy and how we do that,” said Lee Elementary physical education teacher Samuel Thaler. “This is just a great way to remind them there are lots of things they can do to keep their hearts healthy.”

Students get donations from friends and family members. Second-grader Emma Wilcox was the top donator this year, raising $1,057.04. Thaler said he’s always overwhelmed by the amount of funds raised. “It’s incredible. Every year, we get this kind of support. This community is incredible,” he said.

Thaler said the sad truth is that almost everyone knows or will know in their lifetime someone affected by heart disease. The dedication heart wall is an important part of the day, greeting each class and each visitor as they enter the gym. The huge heart is filled with student-signed hearts with names of someone they know who has suffered from heart disease.

Classes take turns jumping rope throughout the day. Students eagerly jump up when it’s their turn to twirl the jump rope. Some see how fast they can do the basic skip, others prefer the side swing, the two-footed jump, or even jumping backward. Parents and teachers picked up ropes themselves to join in the fun.

With lively music playing and the sounds of excited students filling the gymnasium, Thaler said it’s a day he loves. “I hope that the students get a couple of things from all this. I hope that they learn about living a healthy lifestyle and the importance of staying active. I also think it’s a great opportunity for them to think outside themselves and to think of others. This is a way to help others and serve as a reminder to all of us to stay active and healthy.”