The Bert Raney Elementary students have had another successful year with Jump Rope For Heart (Grades K-2nd) and Hoops For Heart (Grades 3-5) and have been named #1 out of 215 schools, because of the amount of money collected. Their goal was to save 335 lives, the same number of students in the entire school.

Well, they saved 442 lives and raised $22,092.23 for the American Heart Association. Needless to say, they shattered their goal and in return, I promised to kiss a cow and a pig. Why a cow and pig? Thanks to money that is donated to the AHA, research has discovered that these two animals are an integral part in repairing specific parts of the human heart.

Our celebration took place on Friday, March 3rd. We started off by recognizing two students for the donations they collected. Myracle Van Overbeke was the recipient from K-2nd by raising $457 and Conner Olson collected $719 from 3rd-5th grade. Congratulations to both of them! Two new Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart banners were hung followed by the revealing of the grand total and the number of lives saved. Thank you to Lauren Fagen, Connor Fagen, and Brianna Hempel (the top three 5th grade fundraisers) for helping reveal the lives saved by each wearing a YME Sting Football jersey with a specific number:”4”, “4”, “2”. I then had to uphold my end of the bargain by kissing the cow/pig. A special Thank You to Mark Enstad for providing the cow and Dave Schueler for bringing the pig!

We ended the assembly with a prerecorded “thank you” video from Julie Boerhave, our Youth Market Director from the American Heart Association. Why do we do this every year? The students at BRE are taught that not only raising funds to support cardiovascular research and education helps save lives in their community and across the country but also the importance of developing heart-healthy habits.

Mini- Health lessons that are taught during the months of January and February are:

• Defining the words “heart disease”

• Understanding what a heart attack is and some of the symptoms

• Verbalizing the difference between a heart attack and a stroke

• Detecting the symptoms of a stroke (F.A.S.T. = face, arms, speech, time to call 9-1-1)

• What is stress? How does one cope so it does not affect health and well-being?

• Knowledge of the importance of sleep

• Recognizing the need for exercising 60 minutes daily

• Watch out for sugar and what it does to your heart

• “Salty Six” and being mindful of sodium

• Understanding the importance of drinking water

• Health concerns in regards to use of tobacco products and standing firm and saying “NO”

Our success would not be possible without the following people: The students, thank you for all the time and effort it took to make it the best year ever. The parents, thank you for encouraging your children to be a part of such an incredible experience and modeling the importance of helping others. The community of Granite Falls and surrounding area, thank you for digging deep into your pockets and saying “yes” when a student approached you to donate to the American Heart. The School Board, Administration, and Staff, thank you for supporting this fundraiser and allowing us to help such a life-changing organization, the American Heart Association!! Bert Raney Elementary, I am so proud of you! “Job well done!”