2017-02-01 / Shorts

Area Students Jump Rope for Their Hearts and Yours

Robyn Passante

It’s that time of year again, when kids in Centre County are jumping up and down — for a good cause.
The American Heart Association’s annual Jump Rope for Heart fundraising and awareness campaign (and its partner campaign for middle school kids, Hoops for Heart) is in full swing this month.

Elementary school students are asking for donations and taking on health-related challenges, like pledging to eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal or choosing to drink water instead of sugary drinks.
These are simple habits that, when started young and reinforced throughout childhood, can make a huge difference in their lives, says Sean Dreher, communications director for the American Heart Association in State College.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer for both men and women in the United States, and those deaths are 80 percent preventable,” Dreher says.

Jump Rope for Heart began in 1978 and has been a successful piece in the heart association’s efforts to raise awareness, heart rates and money for research on heart disease and stroke. Last year the State College Area School District raised nearly $27,000 through its Jump Rope for Heart, Hoops for Heart and Red Out for Heart campaigns, bringing their all-time total to $371,810.85.

Locally, those dollars are combined with funds gathered nationwide — the nonprofit raised $420 million last year alone — to support heart and stroke research and education. Seven research grants totaling $969,169 were given at Penn State University last year, Dreher says.

The funds also support the association’s work with hospitals to develop heart and stroke care guidelines. As part of that effort, Mount Nittany Medical Center has earned its Get With the Guidelines Gold Plus Target Stroke Award and its Get With the Guidelines Gold Plus Heart Failure Award.

Every school has its own website ( through which family and community members can donate to that school’s efforts. The culmination of the campaign will take place on Feb. 19, when students from the State College Area School District’s public elementary schools come together to jump rope for one and a half hours at the high school’s main gym. In addition, the area’s charter schools and private schools each hold their own jump rope events on a day they choose.

Raising money for the cause is important, Dreher says, but getting kids moving is the biggest benefit to the campaign.

“We know prevention is a huge part of avoiding heart disease and stroke,” he says.

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