Apalachin Elementary School students got active and celebrated an important cause during a fun ceremony on Thursday. The American Heart Association and Apalachin Elementary are working together to make whole-body wellness a priority as students participate in Kids Heart Challenge™.
At Thursday morning’s ceremony, students jumped rope to get their hearts pumping in a fun way. The school recognized two 5th graders with important reasons to jump. Lucas Jones and Andrew Matolka were the school’s top fundraisers.
Lucas Jones set a school record by raising more than $2,200 in memory of his twin brother Jacob, who passed away shortly after birth due to heart complications.
“Lucas wants to keep his brother’s name alive,” said Jessica Jones, Lucas’s mother. “He knows Jacob is guiding and protecting him.” This is the second year Lucas has raised money in Jacob’s memory. His mom said people heard his story last year and wanted to be involved. Lucas also hand-wrote thank you notes to everyone who donated to his efforts.
Andrew Matolka raised more than $1,000 in memory of his grandfather, Bill Carrigg, who passed away last May. Carrigg was an avid athlete, even at 81-years-old. He suffered a cardiac arrest while playing basketball. Andrew’s mom, Michelle Matolka, said CPR and AED use extended Carrigg’s life for a few more days, giving the family time to fly down to Florida to say goodbye.
“Andrew recently said to me ‘I have known about the Kids Heart Challenge for years, but this is the first time I have had my own personal connection,’” Matolka said. “He asked me if he could jump in memory of his grandpa. My dad would have loved this.”
Apalachin Elementary School raised a total of more than $13,000, which is a new record for the school. This is Apalachin’s 31st year celebrating the program.
Funds raised by Kids Heart Challenge participants support the American Heart Association’s scientific research and outreach programs, paving the way for technological breakthroughs to improve health outcomes while creating healthier communities.
Kids Heart Challenge is a more than 40-year-old program that targets improving whole-body wellness. The program offers schools a curriculum which prepares kids for success by supporting their physical and emotional well-being, new learning resources and physical activities to meet the needs of today’s youth and educators.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans only 20% of kids get enough activity to meet physical activity recommendations. The Kids Heart Challenge is rooted in proven science which has shown that kids who are regularly active have a better chance of a healthy adulthood. In addition to improved physical health, the benefits of physical activity for children include better grades, school attendance and classroom behavior. Physical activity can also help kids feel better, improve mental health, build self-esteem, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.