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Polson students jump for their hearts

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POLSON — Long before First Lady Michelle Obama began her fitness campaign for kids, Linderman Elementary School Physical Education teacher Micki Stanley and school nurse Millie Nesladek cooperated to get kids involved in Jump Rope for Heart. This is the event’s 17th year in Polson schools. 

Stanley does a jump rope unit with the kids, teaching them different jump rope games, skills and ways to jump. 

The kids fundraise for the American Heart Association, practice their jumping and then spend a couple of hours on an early-out day jumping rope in a variety of ways, such playing a long rope game called mousetrap, circle jump rope, ladder, hurdles, skip-it plus hula hooping and hopscotch.

In between activities, they gather for chances to win prizes.

This year, 51 students were jumpers, Nesladek said, down from the 75 participants Jump Rope for Heart usually attracts. The kids raised $3,671.77, and the top money-raiser was Zachary Plant, who collected $402 from family and friends.

Zachary knows about the American Heart Association and heart health since he was born with a heart defect called tetrology of the fallot. Sunday Plant, Zachary’s mother, said her son had his first open heart surgery at 5 months, and she was so scared.

“I can’t even explain the emotions that come up when I think about that time,” she said.

Two years ago, Sunday said Zachary developed endocarditis, which caused a stroke, and he lost his hearing as a result. Since then Zachary has received cochlear implants. Then in May of 2011, his heart failed and damaged his mitral valve, and he had another round of surgery.

He’s recovered, Sunday said, and “is his own limitation,” although he won’t be able to play full-contact sports when he is older.

“Zachary was absolutely overjoyed to be a part of Jump Rope for Heart,” Sunday said.

On his Jump Rope for Heart pledge sheet, Zachary said, “I’m jumping for myself and all the other heart heroes.”

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