Verona’s public schools started supporting Jump Rope For Heart in the 2002-2003 school year and this spring the fundraiser for the American Heart Association topped a major milestone: More than $500,000 raised in total donations.
Mira Roberts (second from right, above) started the program at Verona High School, and it was moved to H.B. Whitehorne Middle School under the leadership of Andrea Serpico Jordan (VHS Class of 1989, far left) in the 2005-2006 school year. That year, the event was the top-raising Jump Rope for Heart in New Jersey, bringing in $30,168. It was the top state fundraiser eight more times since then and it has been among the top 10 AHA fundraisers in the entire country as well. In the 2014-2015 school year, HBW raised its largest single-year total, $48,442. According to Jordan, Verona’s Jump Rope For Heart events have raised $504,259.
“I would like to thank the Verona community, parents and former and current students for their generous contributions and helping to put HBW on the map the last 13 years,” Jordan said after this year’s event on April 20. “Mrs. Roberts is the one who really got me hooked on the Jump. When I took over for her, I was excited to keep the tradition going.”
Jump Rope For Heart events are conducted during school hours by Verona coaches and teachers, and the event is paired with a curriculum on heart health. Participants can learn to jump rope, a good aerobic activity, and they gain an understanding of community service. The AHA uses the money raised to provide training in recognizing the signs of heart attack or stroke and in how to perform CPR or use a defibrillator.
“The HBW Jump Rope For Heart event is routinely one of the top events in the country every year,” says Jim Presbrey, vice president, Youth Market – New Jersey, for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “What I appreciate is that Andrea, Ray and Danny ensure the students are aware of why an event like this is important while also ensuring everyone have a lot of fun.” In addition to Jordan, the HBW program is led by HBW phys ed teachers Ray Bowes (second from left, above) and Dan Corrado. Marisa Albano (far right) is an HBW teacher who has jumped since Roberts started the event in the high school.
“A special component to their success is bringing in the Heroes and Cool Kids from Verona High School to help facilitate the activities,” Presbrey adds. “When the middle school students see their role models from the high school there, they fully appreciate the importance of service and community involvement. When I think about the donation total from the 30-plus year tradition, I think about the lives that have been impacted and saved. It is truly awesome. When the Heart Association talks about our volunteers as the life blood of our organization, people like Andrea immediately come to mind as she has been the force behind creating a remarkable community-based event at HBW.”
Top photo courtesy Chris Cunningham, HBW 5th grade teacher.