By Mike LaBella
---- — For generations, jumping rope has been a way for children to pass the time and have some fun, especially at recess time.
The sound of a rope slapping against the pavement of a school yard isn’t hard to recognize.
But Tilton School students have turned jumping rope into more than a way to have fun and get some exercise.
In the 15 years Tilton students have been participating in the annual Jump Rope for Heart event, they have raised more than $113,000 for the American Heart Society. At the 16th annual event last week, the students raised $3,800, easily exceeding this year’s goal of $3,100 in pledges.
Tilton’s school yard was buzzing with excitement as children skipped rope to tunes such as “Gangnam Style’’ and songs by artists such as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez — as well as to songs that had to do with jumping.
“I love Jump Rope for Heart because it’s fun and we save people’s hearts,” said second-grader Andrew Potvin.
Physical education teacher Christine Munier organizes the event each year and also served as the disc jockey To create a sense of celebration, she decorated the school yard with heart-shaped balloons, Jump Rope for Heart posters, banners and a poster board displaying the words “It takes a heart to be a Hero.” Children were encouraged to write on the board the name of a loved one who has suffered from heart disease, or they could write their own names as “Heart Heroes.”
Children did individual jumping, partner jumping, the long rope, double dutch and other versions of jumping rope, rotating through five jumping stations. Many parents showed up to watch.
Fourth-grader Chloe Tuccolo said she enjoys the annual event because it gives kids something they can do to help save lives.
“I also do it for my heart,” Chloe said. “I want to stay healthy.”
About 500 Tilton students in kindergarten to grade four participated in Jump Rope for Heart this year to raise money to find cures for heart and blood diseases. Kindergarten students got to participate for the first time.
Students obtained pledges from relatives and friends. The amount pledged depended on the number of times they jumped rope.
The school dedicated this year’s Jump Rope for Heart to Munier’s parents, Charles and Barbara Munier.
“My father had a stroke this past July,” Christine said. “He is doing great and recovering nicely. We also recognized my mother because she knew the signs of having a stroke.”
Fighting heart disease, by the numbers :$117,000: The total raised by Tilton Elementary School students in the last 15 years $3,100: This year's goal $3,800: The amount raised this year 500: The number of Tilton students participating this year