The Kids Heart Challenge, formerly known as Jump Rope for Heart and held annually at schools across the country, teaches youth about keeping their hearts and brains healthy, whole-body wellness, and the importance of helping others.
Students who register in the challenge spend three weeks raising funds for the American Heart Association to help children facing heart health issues.
Good Shepherd Episcopal School was among Dallas campuses participating in the Kids Heart Challenge this spring.
Ninety-eight students raised a school record of $22,283 — surpassing the school’s previous record of less than $12,000 over the last 20-plus years.
“This year, we crushed it,” said Brooke Roney, physical education teacher at Good Shepherd. “It is absolutely remarkable and a testament to the kids.”
While the nearly $23,000 was the total, first-grader Sarina raised the most funds historically out of Good Shepherd individuals, topping $5,000.
“I think this was really important for her,” Roney said.
In April, Sarina was recognized during the lower school’s Kids Heart Challenge Celebration. When she pulled up to school with her father, she got out of the vehicle and was greeted by the first-grade class chanting, “Sarina! Sarina! Sarina!”
With a crown on her head, she led her grade to the campus courtyard, where the entire lower school population was chanting her name.
“They were so excited for her,” Roney said. “There was a lot of rallying around her, which was pretty special.”
That morning, students were recognized for their contributions and work during the three weeks, and each participant received a red Heart Heroes wristband.
Thirty-five students raised more than $250 and were awarded the title of “PE coach of the day” and received a whistle of their own. Twelve students completed Finn’s Mission, a series of 10 challenges, including a self-donation, sharing their fundraising page, learning about hands-only CPR, completing 150 minutes of moving, exercising as a family, and learning about brain and heart health. In turn, these students got a Finn’s Mission keychain.
After recognition for the top 10 fundraisers, the event concluded with an ice cooler poured over Roney’s head.
“The idea just came to me,” Roney said. “The kids couldn’t wait to see me get dumped with ice water.”
Roney plans to set next year’s fundraising goal at $25,000 and hopes to register 100 students.
“Ninety-eight kids raised that much money in a short amount of time,” Roney said. “We have students with big hearts. Honestly, the Heart Hero motto fits our students very well.”
John Holt is the content writer for Good Shepherd Episcopal School.