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Elementary students raise money for heart research

Irby_100_6441_copyALACHUA – When life gave six-year-old Caleb the chance to save lives, he made lemonade.

For Irby Elementary School’s Jump Rope for Heart event, Caleb wanted to raise $100. Showing remarkable patience and business skills, Caleb sat outside his apartment for six hours, said Casey Ludlam, Caleb’s mother. When a particular location slowed down, Caleb would want to move.

He went through an entire container of Country Time Lemonade, but he raised $10. When he ran out of lemonade, Ludlam said Caleb asked if he could sell water.

In total, Caleb raised $140 for the cause.

But he was just one student among many at the elementary school trying to help those with sick hearts for the Jump Rope for Heart event that occurred on Feb. 15.  Overall, the school is working toward a goal of $8,000, although an actual total was unavailable as of press time. Last year, the school raised $8,787. The goal had been $7,000.

The school will honor the top individual in each grade with lunch at Moe’s with Ray Crone, Irby’s physical education teacher. The top class will be awarded a Planet Smoothie party. If the school meets its goal, the top five students from each grade will get a chance to dunk Coach Crone by throwing balls at a target.

The Jump Rope for Heart event is sponsored by the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Since Irby started participating in the fundraising event, the school has raised over $100,000. For every $2,000 the school raises, Crone said the school gets $100 in physical education equipment. Lately, he said the school has been averaging $400 worth of equipment.

This year, the school has gained significant online support, said Aimee Pricher, Behavior Resource Teacher. Jump Rope for Heart has always had an online element, but this year’s superhero e-card increased internet donations, she said. Children were given a chance to place their face on the body of a superhero in the e-card for the theme “Be a Heart Hero” and then e-mail the card to long-distance relatives and friends.

“We’re extremely proud of our students for any amount that they contribute to the American Heart Association,” Pricher said. “The envelopes that are just 38 cents are important because that means the student went into his or her piggy bank or allowance.”