Students Open Hearts To American Heart Association

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Payson Elementary School students raised a record $14,648 to date during their annual Jump Rope for Life campaign to benefit the American Heart Association.

Raising money through exercise reminds the students about the importance of a healthy heart.

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Kindergartner Rachael Brundage was one of many Payson Elementary School students who did not let rainy weather stop their Double Dutch, Chinese and single jump ropes from hitting the ground and flying over their heads on Valentine's Day to raise money for the American Heart Association.

"You need your heart pumping or else the blood will stop going around your body and then you will die," said Simranjames Galhotra, the third-grade student who collected the most money for the second year in a row.

Simranjames collected $655 and his sister Melissa collected $520.

"I asked relatives, doctors at the hospital and one bank to donate money," Galhotra said.

The event would not have been complete without a jump rope contest. The winners were kindergartner Halle Aschebrenner, first-graders Kalvin Proctor and Lauren Murray, second-graders McKenna Crank and Tony Root, third-graders Dillon Robb, Chelsea Roffner, Bryce Goodman, Samantha Gossard and Rachael Knaur, fourth-graders Merry McGee, Delaney Solano, Hunter Lloyd and Logan Morgan and fifth-graders Austin Armstead, Devann Runzo, Keely Christensen, Alix Parker and Stephanie Posey.

Local heart transplant patient Skip Boldt, who received his new heart in August 2005, spoke about his experience to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, the week before they jumped rope.

His wife, Julie, showed a PowerPoint presentation of Skip's enlarged heart sitting in a solution to keep it fresh. She also had photos of the heart after researchers at University of California at San Diego cut it in half.

Boldt showed students the place where his heart wall was too thick and told the students he was born with a hereditary disease, "hypertrophic cardiomyopathy."

"Yet the same symptoms I had before surgery -- gray skin, shortness of breath and a heart that beat out of time, can be brought on by smoking, drug use, lack of exercise and improper diet," he said.

The students had a lot of questions for Boldt.

"Do you know whose heart you have?"

"Have you met that person's family?"

Heart transplant patients do not get to meet the donor's family until the patient has survived a year with the heart and then only if the donor's family want to meet.

Skip does know that his heart came from a man killed in an auto accident.

"How big did your heart get?"

"Double the size and double thickness," he said.

"Skip really enjoyed talking to the children," Julie Boldt said.

"The school did a phenomenal job and Judy Perham put so much effort into getting the community involved," said Lindsay Wynne, director of youth markets for the American Heart Association.

PES has been hosting Jump Rope for Life since at least 1988, according to PES physical education teacher Judy Perham.

"We raised $10,900 last year, so our goal this year was $11,000," she said.

For each $10,000 school children collect for the AHA, their physical education departments receive a $500 equipment grant from U.S. Games.

Julia Randall Elementary students are hosting their Jump Rope for Heart event later this month. Frontier Elementary holds their event in March.

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