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Pumping it up: Perham students Jump Rope for Heart

Photos by Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Kindergartener Charlee Pederson showed off her newly learned jump roping skills during the Jump Rope for Heart event at Heart of the Lakes Elementary last week.1 / 2
Kindergartener Autumn Branchaud smiled while listening to her heart race after jumping rope.2 / 2

Heart of the Lakes Elementary School students raised more than $6,100 for the American Heart Association in a Jump Rope for Heart event last Friday, and as a reward earned $300 in equipment for the school gym.

Jump Rope for Heart is a way for kids across the nation to learn about the importance of a healthy heart, while raising funds for heart research.

Students had been working up to Friday's big event for more than a month. Throughout January, they learned how to jump rope, why it's important for the heart, how to find a pulse and why a heart beats faster during exercise.

The month-long educational unit wrapped up with the Jump Rope for Heart event, during which kids raced around the gym to various activity stations to get their heart pumping. At a rest station, kids had the opportunity to listen to their own heartbeats with stethoscopes lent by Perham Health. They could also drink bottled water donated by United Community Bank.

This is the first time since the 2005-06 school year that HOTL has participated in Jump Rope for Heart - a big project for first year physical education teachers Jennifer Huff and Lance Wittnebel.

Huff said they decided to bring Jump Rope for Heart back to the school because, "The American Heart Association is a great organization that has so many resources available for people," such as lifesaving training classes.

"I also really like promoting this event because I lost a best friend in college from a heart condition and want to educate others about heart disease and how the AHA helps people live healthier and happier lives," she added.

"We have really emphasized throughout this event about helping others. That every dollar they raise matters and helps others," Huff said.

The 2005-06 Jump Rope for Heart at HOTL raised $3,665, and the year previous brought in $2,726.