Julie Gebhardt has been a dedicated American Heart Association volunteer for the past 23 years at St. Rose Elementary in Roseville, CA. Her students have raised nearly $92,500 for Jump Rope For Heart (JRFH) – an achievement made even more impressive because St. Rose has just 300 students, about half the size of a typical elementary school.
Julie made an educated guess when asked how much St. Rose had raised, but she wasn’t even close. “Wow,” was all she could muster when the total of $92,490.71 was revealed. “I had no idea.”
Julie was first introduced to Jump Rope For Heart in 1989, during a seminar organized through the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. The workshop featured jump rope team demonstrations which immediately caught her attention.
She took the thought of creating a jump team back to St. Rose where students were instantly drawn to the idea because of her enthusiasm and passion – and the St. Rose Pepper Steppers were born. The team performed at JRFH events throughout Northern California from 1992 to 2004, showcasing elite jump roping skills and promoting heart health. “It was a great time,” Julie says. “Schools loved having our jump team perform because it brought passion to their students to do the same.”
The St. Rose Pepper Steppers may be long retired; but lucky for St. Rose, Julie plans to be around for a long time. She continues to engage students in JRFH as she enters her 24th year at the school. “It’s good for me,” she said with a smile. “I love my kids and I love what I do.”
St. Rose Elementary is one of 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 are expected to learn about heart health while participating in a Youth Market event.