Jim McEldowney of Snoqualmie, WA, is a physical education teacher who inspires kids to jump at the chance to help others. “I want students to leave my classes knowing how to be better people,” he says. “That comes from helping others.” Jim has been involved in Jump Rope For Heart (JRFH) for over 20 years at Snoqualmie & Van Buren Elementary Schools. Over the years, students have raised more than $80,000 to fight heart disease and stroke.
Every year in February, Jim focuses attention on how JRFH raises funds for research and education. He plans special events during the week of Valentine’s Day, including lunch recess rallies which average some 250 participants every day. This year, the Wednesday session was the biggest ever with 355 students involved.
Jim’s dedication to JRFH dates back to 1987 when he was introduced to the program in the early days of his teaching career in Idaho. “Back then, we held one big event that often stretched over three hours,” Jim recalls. “When I moved to Snoqualmie, I decided to spread the fun over an entire school week to maximize student awareness.”
“It’s amazing just how aware our students become about heart diseases and stroke,” he adds. “I hear so many stories about their grandparents, aunts and uncles, other family members and friends who have had a heart attack or lost their life due to heart disease or stroke. They understand that JRFH helps save lives.”
Snoqualmie and Van Buren Elementary are among some 3,904 schools across the Western States Affiliate participating in American Heart Association Youth Market programs this year. Nearly 165,000 students are raising funds and over 850,000 will learn about heart health by participating in a Youth Market event.