Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart are fundraising events that take place in elementary schools and middle schools all over the nation. Participants learn jump rope and basketball skills and raise money for the American Heart Association (AHA) while learning how to develop heart-healthy habits like being physically active.
Breaking a new Maine record, students across Maine together raised $505,000 dollars through the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs. In the past school year Gary Urey, the AHA’s Youth Market Director, recruited 180 schools in Maine to participate these programs.
Several schools broke their all-time fundraising records, which helped push the total fundraising level to over the half million dollar mark for the first time. Falmouth Elementary raised $23,000, Coastal Ridge Elementary in York raised $21,000, Wells Elementary raised $17,000, Madawaska Elementary raised $13,000, and Smith Elementary in Sanford raised $8,000.
Taylor Austerer, a 5th grade student at Hall Elementary School in Portland, raised $1,205 making her the top student fundraiser in Portland for the program this year. Austerer had previously participated in Jump Rope for Heart, but never to this extent. Taylor and her mother, Rebecca, participated in the Southern Maine Heart Walk and raised money for that event as well.
The AHA’s mission hits close to home for the Austerer family. Taylor’s maternal grandmother, maternal grandfather and several of her great aunts and uncles all died suddenly due to heart attacks. Taylor’s uncle also suffered a stroke at a young age.
“I enjoy helping people that are having a hard time. I think people that have problems with their heart deserve to be happy too,” Taylor said.
Urey believes the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart are a blend of activity, education, and community service. “This program is about being healthy and fit, while also fighting childhood obesity – which is right now at about 40% in the country,” said Urey. “It’s also about raising donations that fund the researchers and doctors who perform miracles every day for kids with sick hearts. The schools, kids, and Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart coordinators who complete events are amazing in their support of AHA’s mission. They are the true heart heroes.”