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When it comes to jumping, students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School really take the task to heart.
Last Friday, they did just that.
Close to 180 of the school’s students jammed into the school gym after school to participate in the Jump Rope for Heart event. In all they raised $10,100 this year and over the last dozen years the school’s students have raised close to $65,000 in the fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
That included one student who had been saving her money to buy an iPad Touch. Instead, she gave the money to the fundraiser.
“It was the most ever,” Sue Moore, the school’s physical education instructor, said of this year’s effort. “I’m very pleased.”
This year the TJ students jumped in honor of Cody Beck, a 3-year-old who has already had four heart surgeries since being born. Cody was at Friday’s event with his mom, Gina, along with several of his siblings. Included in those was Kyle, his fourth grade brother, who was jumping along with his class as part of Friday’s event. Cody’s cousin, Lindsey Hunt, also participated.
“Cody has spent a lot of time in the hospital,” Gina said of her son, who born with a rare heart defect. In essence Cody, who is missing an entire ventricle, was born with “half of a heart,” she said.
Cody had his first surgery just after he was born—when his heart was just the size of a walnut—and two more followed. He had his fourth surgery this past fall and is doing well.
“He’s faced death many times,” she told the TJ students when the family was introduced in between a jumping session. And, she added, “he’s amazing.”
Gina said it helps for the students to be able to put a local face on their fundraising efforts. She added that it’s relatively recent that heart surgery on young children has become more common. “It’s very different than adult cardiology,” she said.
Gina said the community rallied around their family.
“There are so many people praying and helping,” she said. “Things are looking good right now.”
She said it was humbling for the students to be jumping in honor of Cody. “I know we represent many families,” she said.
And Gina had a message for the TJ students as they jumped Friday: “He’ll jump with you guys someday,” she told them, to cheers.
The students had plenty to do—16 different stations. They jumped off a mini-trampoline, played leap frog, had sack races, jumped through a ladder, had short and long ropes, jumped over hurdles and jumped on pogos. More than 30 staff members at the school also helped with the event.
The Forest Subway donated sandwich parties to the top three classes that raised funds. Those were Nicole Tibbs’ fifth grade class ($1,500); Moira Hangis fourth grade class ($1,401); and Jodi Biggio’s fifth grade class ($940).
Kyle Beck raised the most money for the event, $500 followed by Will Hunter with $300, Daniel Campbell with $295, Madeline Clay with $275 and Philip Hubbard with $250.
The top two classes (as far as the number of participants) at each grade level received a free recess.
Planning for the event began in January.