Fairview Elementary students raised more than $10,000 for the American Heart Association through its annual Kids Heart Challenge Thursday.
The challenge, which was formerly known as Jump Rope for Heart, raised a total of $10,783 and helped students learn about making heart-healthy decisions.
“The kids are fired up — for them it’s the best day of the school year,” Fairview coach Mike Gillum said. “We put a lot into this event. If you believe in what you are doing, the kids respond to it.”
Gillum said Fairview Elementary has raised more than $300,000 over the course of the 20 years he has been overseeing the event at the school. Gillum said he set a goal of $10,000 a year early on and the students have risen to the occasion each year.
“We try to teach the kids a healthier lifestyle is more than just eating right,” Gillum said. “Most importantly, we teach them caring about other people and giving back to the community in return comes back to help them. Some of these kids are going to have heart problems some day.”
Gillum said he tells even the kindergartners their contributions will help save lives. He said heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and woman in the country. Gillum said the goal of the Kids Heart Challenge is to get students thinking about living a healthy lifestyle while also giving them a fundraiser they can contribute to that benefits everyone.
He said parental involvement is also a big benefit to the kids.
“If you came out for the kindergarten or first grade, you wouldn’t be able to stand, there are so many parents.” Gillum said.
Parent Gina Adams said the event was a great bonding experience for the students.
“It makes them appreciate doing something for other people,” Adams said. “The parents have been just as excited as the kids. It pumps the kids up and we share in that vibe. I feel bad for the teachers having to take them back to class after this.”
She said her daughter Novalee, who is in second grade and also in competitive cheer, has been looking forward to the Kids Heart Challenge.
“She was really excited, she has been bugging me for weeks.” Adams said. “It’s a team effort for them. They get to jump with their friends as well while learning how to be healthier.”