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Hopping for Hearts in Hayward

Updated: 02/14/2014 9:11 AM
Created: 02/13/2014 4:14 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Hayward is known for the American Birkebiener, but it could soon be the country's jump rope capital as students and teachers pushed for a record-breaking fundraiser on Thursday.

Schools across the country jump rope to raise money for the American Heart Association (AHA). Most donate around $3,000, but the kids in Hayward wanted jump a little farther. They wanted to break a record and donate over $100,000.

“It is insane I guess. A lot of people have told me that, but I'm excited for it and that just motivates us a little more,” Dave Dixon said.

The elementary gym teacher is the official hop master for the event. Dixon said the kids work up a big sweat jumping, but the fundraiser does more than just et their hearts pumping. Every hop means more money, and the AHA said $50 can help save a life.

“I get pretty wrapped up in it and pretty emotional when I think back that probably somebody like me got a little kid involved in Jump Rope for Heart and they went out and raised $50 and that $50 maybe saved my mom's life,” Dixon said.

The money raised does help fight heart disease that kills 1 in 4 Americans every year according to the AMA. Still, the funds can do more than fight strokes and heart attacks.

Guidance Counselor Kylah Eckes said her son was born with a tumor on his heart. She said the AHA was crucial in helping her son become a healthy toddler.

“There's a lot of kids, little ones, that are affected by heart disease, heart defects, and rarities. He's a good reminder to everybody that it touches anybody and everybody,” Eckes said.

Her daughter Tara jumped her way through the fundraiser. The 1st grader said she raised over $2,000 to give back to the AHA.

“We saw a lot of kids that had bad hearts when we were in the hospital,” Tara Eckes said. “I feel like I'm helping them by doing this.”

The school enlisted 2,000 jumpers on Thursday with sponsorships from local businesses kicking in a lot of cash as well. Dixon said the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Jack Links each donated $5,000.

Eckes said the massive fundraiser shows that giving runs through the veins of the small community of 2,000 residents.

“Just because we're little doesn't mean we don't have big hearts,” Eckes said.

There were still donations to count on Thursday afternoon, but the Hayward students were short of their goal with only $77,000 tallied. Dixon hoped a fundraiser hosted by the Hayward Chamber of Commerce later this week would put the students over the top.

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