Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Join Me in Jump Rope for Heart...It Takes Heart to be a Hero

On Monday, February 10, 2014, Harding Elementary students and I enjoyed attending a Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) assembly, followed by a Jump Rope for Heart Kick-Off assembly.

During the PBIS portion of the assembly, teachers and students celebrated those students who did not receive a referral in the month of January.  Each classroom teacher recognized students in his/her classrooms by reading aloud the names of students in his/her classroom.  Students clapped for each other as names were read.  I love watching students proudly stand up when his/her name is called, as they are proud for following our 3 school rules: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.

While the PBIS recognition is important to me and I am a huge supporter of PBIS, it is the Jump Rope for Heart Kick-Off that really captured "my heart" and is something I am excited to be a participant!

During the Jump Rope for Heart assembly, when the speaker, Amy Knoll, asked the audience, if they know someone who has had heart problems, I immediately thought of several people I know who have heart problems.

My very own Grandpa John, who I love and admire very much, has experienced heart problems. When I was a college sophomore (12 years ago), he suffered from a serious heart attack.  At that time, I almost lost him, but he was shocked back to life.  He is 82 years old now, and still going strong.

Then I think about Hayden Despenas...
He is an incredibly sweet and bright 10 year old boy, and son of my co-worker friend Sarah Despanas (Harding Elementary and Jefferson Elementary Guidance Counselor).  His smile lights up a room!  Hayden is diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia.  Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) is a relentless, genetic disease that will not only rob your child of the ability to walk, but also to speak, see and hear…The devastation doesn't stop there.  FA also causes scoliosis, diabetes and heart disease with the outcome being an early death, usually in the late teens or early adulthood.  You can help support Hayden and others with FA by clicking on , or by going to Hayden's Hope (Hayden Despenas) Facebook page at .

Another co-worker friend, Darcee, lost her brother-in-law last Friday to a heart attack.  He would have been 50 years old on Tuesday, February 11.  I immediately thought of her and her family as they cope with this difficult and unexpected loss.

At the assembly, I was also reminded of another awe-inspiring person, Iowa State Men's Head Basketball Coach Fred Hoiberg!  Jump Rope for Heart speaker Amy Knoll, informed us that Fred has a heart pacemaker.  By the way, just a side note, Fred's mom was my 5th grade math teacher!  I will never forget her Family Math Nights at Sawyer Elementary, special events starring Fred Hoiberg, Loren Meyer, and Julius Micalik, and many more special 5th grade memories.  I am incredibly pleased and honored that Mrs. Hoiberg and I are still connected, thanks to Facebook!

Of course, I have other family and friends with heart problems, so I don't mean to leave anyone out, but these are the people I immediately thought of during the assembly!

As I sat at that Jump Rope for Heart assembly and listened to Amy Knoll explained how much money it takes to save one life, it was a sweet reminder of life is a true gift.  Amy explained to the students that is is Jump Rope for Heart's 35th anniversary, and there were special gifts to be given out this year.  For certain dollar amounts, special gifts could be earned.  As she continued to share each goal level, the prizes, and how many lives it would help save, I couldn't help but get just as excited about this worthy cause.  While the gifts are motivating, I liked how she reminded students that donating money towards a good cause is truly what should make us feel good and from our hearts, it's not about the prizes.  Then the assembly concluded with six 4th graders and staff volunteers to go up front to jump rope.  There was a contest to see how many times we can jump rope in one minute! Of course, I just had to "jump right in" and participate!   Whew, it has been quite some time since I have had to jump rope for 1 minute, as fast as I can.  It sure brought back great memories of my high school and junior college volleyball days!  :)  What fun it was! :)  In one minute, a 4th grade male jumped 120 times, compared to my 86 times.  LOL! :)  I will have to post a picture someone took of the 4th graders and staff up front jumping rope. (to be posted later).

That day I decided I am going to join Harding Elementary students in Jump Rope for Heart! So, I am sharing this on my blog, as this is something that means a lot to me, particularly since I know of more and more people experiencing heart problems.

As of this blog post, I have raised $20.00!  While the most important concept is helping a cause, I can't help but get excited about the lanyard and 2 duckies I have earned so far! ;)  It is so much fun to join in on this worthy cause with students!

So, pretty please, help me to help others!  You can go to and donate!  From the bottom of my heart, I truly and sincerely thank you for your help the fight against heart disease!