For 26 years, students at Chestnut Ridge Elementary School in Chili have participated in the various healthy heart challenges, now known as the Kids Heart Challenge, benefiting the American Heart Association.
The school’s goal was $20,000 for 2019. The students and their community exceeded it, raising $23,118 for the cause and bringing the total contributed by CRS to more than $280,000.
Students recently celebrated this accomplishment, along with other schoolwide giving initiatives, with William Mitchell from AHA’s Rochester chapter. Mitchell thanked the students and presented the school’s Honorary Heart Hero, Hunter Gauger, with his superhero cape. The top fundraising class — 85% of the members contributed efforts to gather donations — was recognized and rewarded with the promise of a healthy snack party.
The Kids Heart Challenge teaches children about heart healthy activities and is incorporated in physical education classes.
“All of our students, from kindergarten to fourth grade, participate in the challenge,” said Brooke Elnicky, program coordinator and PE teacher. “They learn healthy habits, along with understanding and caring about others. It’s a fun way to build character and give children the tools they need to lead long and healthy lives.”
Principal Kim Hale thanked students for their contributions to another giving project that was based on an unusual event earlier in the year: Day of Play. CRS students had the chance to spend one day playing board games with each other. They enjoyed it so much, they decided to pay it forward by collecting games to donate to other students so they might have a special day, too. Hale announced that students at Rochester’s Early Childhood School 57 now are planning their own Day of Play, thanks to 76 games donated by the CRS student population.
Other guests included Louis Buono and Kelli Harmor, owner and manager, respectively, of McDonald’s on Chili Avenue. School staff, in conjunction with the PTO, volunteered their time and talents working at the restaurant for an evening, and Buono donated profits of almost $800 to benefit the school. It was another civics lesson for students to see how people can make a difference for their community.
More than 3,000 schools nationwide participate in the AHA Kids Heart Challenge program. The events promote sports and fitness, educate students about the risks of heart disease and stroke, and lay the groundwork for lifelong community activism and volunteering.