Spaulding School student Marcus Schenk has a personal connection to the Gurnee school's annual Jump Rope for Heart event.

Marcus' sister, Josie, 10, has Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. She has an extra nerve in her heart that sends a random signal causing an extra fast beat.

Josie is taking medicine to steady her heartbeat and will soon have surgery to fix the problem.

Marcus, a second-grader from Wadsworth, joined 450 of his fellow kindergarten through second-grade schoolmates in jumping rope for 25 minutes during gym class Tuesday. Students collected donations from family, friends and neighbors for the American Heart Association for research, health promotion and community programs.

Spaulding students raised $10,400 last year, and officials say donations could top $12,000 this year. The school has held Jump Rope for Heart since 2000.

"It's a great program because it brings our physical education component into it, the health aspects of eating the right foods," Spaulding P.E. teacher Len Wojciechowicz said.

Wojciechowicz added that it's also good for students to learn the importance of giving money to those who have health problems.