Jumping rope, shooting hoops for healthy hearts
By Angie Landsverk
Students at Waupaca Learning Center are getting ready to jump rope and shoot basketballs to raise funds for the American Heart Association.
Jump Rope For Heart and Hoops for Heart is set for Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25 and 26, at the school.
This year, the students are honoring 9-year-old Carter Fermanich, who is a third grader at the school.
“I just think it’s a great cause. I’m glad they’re making awareness about it,” said his mother, Emily Smith.
Her son was three days old when he had his first heart surgery to correct the coarctation of his aorta.
When he was 10 months old, he had his second heart surgery.
That one was to remove the fibrous tissue growing over his mitral valve.
“He is doing good right now. He has tissue growing back over the mitral valve right now. Once it gets to a certain percentage, he will have to have another surgery,” Smith said. “It could be a year. It could be six months from now. We don’t know right now.”
Lisa Ash, a physical education teacher at WLC, learned about Carter’s heart condition a couple years ago, when his older sister, Idalis, was in her class.
“We were talking about Jump Rope For Heart,” Ash said.
As Ash talked about how children may have heart conditions, Idalis shared the story about how her brother was born with one.
“I thought maybe we could do something special for him some day,” Ash said.
This is the year the school is doing so.
Students are participating in the event next week, during their physical education time periods.
Ash said the students rotate from one station to another, with each station involving basketball or jump roping.
The American Heart Association provides educational materials “to help get the heart healthy message out,” Ash said.
She said that message is in line with the school’s physical education standards in regard to heart health and physical activity.
Teachers kicked off this year’s effort by presenting information to the students about why the school chooses to participate in the event.
They talked to the students about healthy eating, physical activity, living tobacco free and limiting sodium and sugar.
“We’re trying to get the message out to the kids,” Ash said.
The three weeks leading up to Jump Rope For Heart and Hoops For Heart, the students work on their jump rope and basketball skills during physical education class.
“Healthy heart, healthy body, get fit, get moving – that’s what phy ed teachers emphasize,” Ash said.
The school is also raising awareness by holding a Go Red Day on Friday, Feb. 19, encouraging everyone to wear something red to school that day.
Smith said it means a lot to her family that the students are honoring Carter this year.
Due to his heart condition, he may not play contact sports.
However, he is active in other ways.
“He loves playing cars and trucks, riding bike, sledding,” Smith said. “He’s a great little boy. He’s fantastic.”
Up until his most recent visit, Carter saw his cardiologist every six months. Now, the time in between visits has been stretched to every nine months, she said.
Smith said younger children often do not understand how children their own age may have heart issues.
“It can be a lesson,” she said.
Last year was the first time students at the school jumped in honor of someone in the building, and they raised $14,625.20, which was a record amount for the school.
They honored 4K teacher Jennie Peterson and her daughter, Lillie, who both had past heart issues.
A year later, Peterson said, “We have had a good year. We are both healthy and proud to be participating in this year’s fundraising event.”
Community members who want to be part of the school’s fundraising effort this year may drop off donations, written to the American Heart Association, at Waupaca Learning Center or mail them to the school at 1515 Shoemaker Road, Waupaca, WI 54981.
“Having Carter’s face and being able to relate exercise and helping someone you know has been wonderful to get the kids fired up about taking care of their hearts and helping others,” Ash said.