State Rd. students ROCKED the Kids Heart Challenge!

6 Mar

State Rd. Elementary School recently concluded the month-long Kids Heart Challenge in February, and they blew away all expectations.

Kids Heart Challenge is an initiative created by the American Heart Association to raise funds for research and teach kids about keeping their hearts and brains healthy, through fun and educational activities.

State Rd. phys. ed. teachers Dan Graf and Danielle Carlsen coordinate the event, encouraging students to reach out to friends and family for donations. Every year they set a fundraising goal of $10,000, and every year they exceed it. This year, 162 students participated. So far, they’ve raised an amazing $13,791 and the donations continue to come in. 

Graf and Carlsen make sure their students know that all the funds stay in the Rochester area to support research and education. But more than anything else, they teach the kids about heart health and making good choices. 

“It’s not just about fundraising,” Carlsen said. “It’s more about the educational experience. Learning about the signs of a heart attack, what an AED is. The money is secondary compared to the education they get from the event.”

Graf added, 

Our most important thing is that kids walk out of here knowing what the signs of a heart attack are, making better life choices. … Get 60 minutes of play every day; eat fruits and vegetables, the five food groups; try not to have as many sugary drinks, stay away from drugs and alcohol and smoking. Anything that’s good for your body, we talk about it. We play games with that all February long, and then we reiterate it throughout the year.

Graf has a personal stake in the program’s educational mission. In 2015, several years after State Rd. started participating in Kids Heart Challenge (known then as Jump Rope and Hoops for Heart), Graf had a heart attack and double bypass surgery.

He credits the program for saving his life. One night when he was out with friends, he started having chest pains that radiated up his neck and down both of his arms. He recognized what was happening, and immediately told his friends to call an ambulance.

“I knew every sign and symptom, and I knew that because of the American Heart Association.”

State Rd. Elementary School has been participating in the Kids Heart Challenge since 2003. Every year — even during a global pandemic — they’ve managed to reach and exceed their ambitious fundraising goal. They are truly making a difference in our community.

As Graf tells them every year, “You can do a little, but together we are something that creates a lot.” And just maybe, the things they’re learning today could save a life tomorrow.

Donations are still being accepted. To find out more, click here for the State Rd. Elementary School Kids Heart Challenge page.

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