“We equate about $50 raised to one life saved,” said Julie Neuhaus, West Michigan director of the youth market with American Heart Association who stopped in to visit the Lee event. “This event (at Lee) has helped save a lot of lives in a lot of ways.”
This year, Lee raised $24,234.74. Third-grader Remy Henry was the top fundraiser for the second year in a row, bringing in $1,502 alone. Physical education teacher Samuel Thaler said he’s always amazed at the amount of donations.
“This community stays true to their character of being generous, even in the face of hard times. I doubted we would raise as much money as we did, with inflation being what it is; yet once again, this community's giving has amazed me. Your support for the KHC each year is greatly appreciated.”
Students weren’t alone as they picked up their jump ropes. Teachers, parents, Lee Principal Angela Jefferson and even Superintendent Craig McCarthy and assistant superintendent Chris LaHaie were willing to give the ropes a whirl.
“The sad truth is that we all know, or will know, someone that has been affected by heart disease. This is a major reason why this topic and event is so important for students to learn about,” said Thaler.
Jefferson said the tradition has become something students look forward to all year. “I think the initial event and passion behind this event truly came from retired Lee PE teacher Joanne Desy. It has been really special that Samuel Thaler (who actually student taught with Joanne Desy and was born and raised in this community) has been able to inspire the same great event and continue the legacy at Lee.”
T-shirts and banners from each years’ event hang proudly around the gymnasium as students take their turns jumping rope. Jon Schilthroat from the TK Tech Department volunteered as DJ for the day, spinning some kid-favorite songs. The gymnasium is filled with enthusiasm, excitement and lots of kids, parents and teachers having healthy fun.
Thaler takes it all in throughout the day as he watches all of the classrooms get their turn. “It is a great opportunity for them (students) to learn about heart health and the practical things they can do to keep their own hearts healthy, as well as encouraging healthy changes in others. Getting involved by raising money gives students a deeper meaning to the importance of this knowledge. The culminating event is a fun and unique way to celebrate with students, parents, and the community on the hard work they have done and once again send home the message of heart health,” said Thaler.
Jefferson agreed there is so much more meaning behind the day than just raising money. “The students learn all month in PE about heart health and how to keep their own heart healthy. They also learn the value of raising funds for a cause that affects so many people's lives. It is also a chance for our building to invite parents and guests in to experience the event with us. It is just a very positive event all the way around!”
Jefferson and Thaler both expressed their gratitude to the community for continuing to support this event. “Thank you so much to this generous community for their continued support.”