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Madawaska kids with ‘heart’ help break state record

MADAWASKA, Maine — Breaking state records, students across Maine together raised $505,000 through the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs. One Saint John Valley school outdid their previous efforts and helped jump the state total to the half-million mark.

Madawaska Elementary School students raised $13,000 for the cause, joining top totals from Falmouth Elementary, $23,000; Coastal Ridge Elementary in York, $21,000; Wells Elementary, $17,000; and Smith Elementary in Sanford, $8,000.

Gary Urey, youth market director for the American Heart Association (AHA), recruited 180 schools in Maine during the 2015-2016 school year to participate in the programs. While participating in the fundraising events, students learn jump rope and basketball skills while raising money for the AHA and developing heart-healthy habits like being physically active.

Taylor Austerer, a fifth-grade student at Hall Elementary School in Portland, raised $1,205, making her the top student fundraiser for the program this year. Austerer’s maternal grandparents and several great-aunts and uncles all died suddenly due to heart attacks, and her uncle also suffered a stroke at a young age.

Urey believes the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart are a blend of activity, education and community service. “This program is about being healthy and fit, while also fighting childhood obesity, which is right now at about 40 percent in the country,” he said. “It’s also about raising donations that fund the researchers and doctors who perform miracles every day for kids with sick hearts. … The schools, kids, and Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart coordinators who complete events are amazing in their support of AHA’s mission. They are the true heart heroes.”

For more information on the program or to register as a school or as in individual, visit www.heart.org/jump or contact Urey at Gary.Urey@heart.org or 207-289-2390.

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