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updated: 1/31/2014 4:21 PM

Longfellow students join Jump Rope for Heart campaign

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  • Avery Palmore, center, hops through a jump band, while Cecilia Marello, left, holds the band, and parent volunteer Theresa Ferguson watches. Students at Longfellow School in Wheaton were jumping around Friday in gym classes to raise money for the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart program.

       Avery Palmore, center, hops through a jump band, while Cecilia Marello, left, holds the band, and parent volunteer Theresa Ferguson watches. Students at Longfellow School in Wheaton were jumping around Friday in gym classes to raise money for the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart program.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Brennan Johnson eyes the target Friday and prepares to jump to grab the flag during Longfellow School's Jump Rope for Heart program.

       Brennan Johnson eyes the target Friday and prepares to jump to grab the flag during Longfellow School's Jump Rope for Heart program.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Alejandro Galbraith jumps as high as possible Friday during Longfellow School's Jump Rope for Heart program in Wheaton.

       Alejandro Galbraith jumps as high as possible Friday during Longfellow School's Jump Rope for Heart program in Wheaton.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Thomas Zapata jumps around Friday during Longfellow School's Jump Rope for Heart program in Wheaton.

       Thomas Zapata jumps around Friday during Longfellow School's Jump Rope for Heart program in Wheaton.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • After the kids were finished jumping around, they were treated to bananas provided by Trader Joe's in Glen Ellyn to help rebuild their energy.

       After the kids were finished jumping around, they were treated to bananas provided by Trader Joe's in Glen Ellyn to help rebuild their energy.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Jumping rope for heart health

 
 

When Longfellow Elementary School gym teacher Barb Williams lost her 28-year-old son to a heart attack, she decided to educate her students about the importance of heart health.

So in 2006, she brought the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart program to the Wheaton school.

"It's my way of helping other families," she said.

Every other year since then, she has enlisted parent volunteers to help organize 12 special jumping activities that are fun but also get the kids' hearts pumping.

There's a serious message about heart health she shares with the students before each session, and the program also raises money for heart research.

"You become a heart hero by helping (raise money) today," she told the students.

Williams said the students have raised more than $7,000 online and she expected the amount to go "quite higher."

After working out, each student received a high potassium snack in the form of a banana.

One of the parent volunteers, Jennifer Laird, wrote to Trader Joe's grocery store in Glen Ellyn to see if they would help with the refreshments. Store officials responded by donating 225 bananas.

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