Kids jumping for heart health in Chester County

March 15, 2013 3:40:02 PM PDT
Students at a Chester County school did more than jump into a fundraising effort. They brought in thousands of dollars to help fight heart disease.

And it took just one day to do it.

For twelve years, kindergarteners through fifth graders at Uwchlan Hills Elementary School have been jumping rope to raise money for the American Heart Association.

But this year was different. This year the school lost two parents, one of them to heart disease.

"It hit us really hard because our children are with these children," said parent Kim Mukalian. "One of the parents had cardiac arrest and passed away young, very young."

And so they jumped rope and collected donations from parents, teachers, community members and each other.

This event has always been successful, but this year the effort was more intense.

"A lot of kids just raised money, more than they thought they could," said student Jacob Mukalian. "They really pitched in and tried their best."

"The children took a whole lot of pride, along with the community," said Jump-a-Thon Coordinator Leo Sunaiga. "In eight hours we were able to raise $33,000!"

After the students raised $29,000 in last year's jump-a-thon, Uwchlan's principal challenged them to raise $30,000 or more this year. He promised to have his hair dyed pink if they did.

The students made sure he made good on that promise.

And so after Principal Bob's hair appointment, he went straight to the school's TV studio to make an important announcement to the entire student body.

"Hi, boys and girls," he said. "This is your principal. How do you like my new look?"

The kids' cheers were deafening.

Afterward, he told me he made no promises how long he would wear his hair pink. But, he said, "I think the kids will be disappointed if it disappears quickly, so I might roll with it for a little while."

Perhaps the American Heart Association's Colleen Csenteri summed it up best.

"They're saving lives, raising money to fund research for the American Heart Association, and I can't be more thankful," she said.