Two Myrtle Beach-area schools ready to jump for hearts

02/16/2014 12:00 AM

02/15/2014 2:57 PM

Thirty years ago, the Pointer Sisters – with Ruth, Anita and the late June Pointer – had one of their biggest hits in “Jump (For My Love),” and students at two elementary schools will jump for their heart on Friday.

Students at Palmetto Bays Elementary School, on S.C. 544, between Socastee and Conway, and Kensington Elementary in Georgetown, will take part in “Jump Rope for Heart” benefits, all to raise awareness about the heart’s crucial part for good health.

At both schools, youth from all grade levels will each take turns jumping rope. The event coordinators, both physical education instructors – Debbie Wolfe at Palmetto Bays, and Dennis Brachna at Kensington – were hoppin’ last week to preview their school’s respective 12th and sixth annual jump-a-thons.

Both schools have extra incentives for students to take part, such as students raising money for the American Heart Association (, which has an office in Myrtle Beach: 1113 44th Ave. N., Suite 200. Call 282-2901.

Kensington’s event was postponed to this Friday from Feb. 14 because Georgetown County Schools were still closed for a third day, as several sites awaited restoration of electricity after the ice storm that struck Wednesday.

Question | What got your school’s Jump Rope for Heart hopping, to become an annual tradition?

Wolfe | I was hired here in 2002, and I had done this at a private school, where it was always a big hit with kids. It was one of my favorite things to do, and I couldn’t imagine going into a school year without it. I asked the principal, who said we’ll give it a try, and it was a big success.

My own dad, he had a stroke, and shortly after that, I began having the “Jump Rope for Heart” event. It didn’t just change his life; it changed all of our lives. He lived, with the effects of that stroke, for about seven years, and he ended up losing a leg because of an infection. It really hit home with me.

Brachna | For me, it was family members with heart disease, including several deaths in the immediate family, so that was an inspiration for me to help promote awareness and raise money to help others.

Q. | What other amenities make this jump-rope occasion fun across the board?

Wolfe | All of our student body will participant, including those in wheelchairs; we bring them in and roll their wheelchairs across the long jump rope, and they get to socialize like everybody else does. Even my preschool children, kindergartners and first-graders: They have their event in their physical education class during the week of the benefit.

I kind of wish we didn’t have to do it, but we choose one of our students who has heart disease. Usually what we do every year is we name our event in that student’s honor. We introduce that student to the student body, bring the parents in, get to know the family, and they know they have the support of the school.

We are honoring one of our own students who has had open-heart surgery, will need another in about five years, and also suffers tremendously from juvenile arthritis.

Brachna | We have DJ Big John; he has been with us every year but one. He plays hip-hop music that the youth like; they do more than just jump rope; they do hula-hoops, shoot hoops and dance.

Q. | What’s the best music for jumping rope to?

Wolfe | I usually try to pick some of the “Kidz Bop” music. The kids all like that; they know all the words to all of the songs.

Q. | In the past five years at Kensington, what growth has evolved in the reception to, and participation in, Jump Rope for Heart?

Brachna | It’s caught on very nicely, and I’m able to promote it to all the students, because I see the development in my physical education classes.

Q. | What makes jumping rope so great an activity for one’s whole body?

Wolfe | You use all the large muscles for groundwork, but the most important thing is that it’s a fantastic cardio workout, for any age. The whole point of staying healthy and being active is to keep that heart functioning properly. Jumping rope is a great way to do that.

Kids don’t get out and play as much as they used to. Jumping rope is inexpensive. All you need is a rope, and it doesn’t have to be a fancy rope, and any kid can learn. It gets them up and doing something active.

Q. | You remember your first time jumping rope?

Wolfe | I was in elementary school, and I grew up on a farm. We had a big area behind the house. We had a real old burlap rope; that’s what I learned to jump with. When I didn’t have anyone to turn the other end of the rope, I had a friend or brother, and we’d tie the other end around a tree, so it was almost like two people turning the rope.

Q. | What reminders about heart disease bear repeating for the whole public?

Brachna | What might be the most interesting statistic is about how it’s the No. 1 killer, and it has been for some time. A lot of is preventable, so we all can do things in our daily lives to help avoid it and prevent it. We try to promote that aspect, to have a healthy lifestyle and diet.

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