Riverchase among top in nation for Hoops for Heart

Students in Shelby County have stepped up to beat heart disease. Two schools, Riverchase Middle and Helena Elementary, are both setting records this year for fund raising.

Kids at Riverchase Middle School have placed their school second in the nation for middle schools raising the most money for the &8220;Hoops for Heart&8221; program. The school&8217;s 6th through 8th grade students raised $28,155 for the effort, which endorses the value of both physical and community activity.

Jason Fields, Youth Market director for the Birmingham chapter of the American Heart Association, said Riverchase students made the community aware of their efforts.

&8220;For years they&8217;ve done the Jump Rope for Heart event but they wanted to take it to a different level this year,&8221; Fields said. &8220;They went out and asked for donations, the kids did and many of them raised in the $300s and $400s.&8221;

A portion of the money was raised through the Riverchase Celebration day where students participated in several hours of physical activities. Each $10 amount raised meant another class period spent in the gym.

Students enjoyed meeting UAB athletes, duct taping coaches to boards, playing in a dodge ball tournament and throwing water and slime balloons at coaches. Four hundred and thirty-one students contributed.

Riverchase&8217;s younger counterparts didn&8217;t lag behind in their fund-raising efforts either. Helena Elementary students raised $17,100 this year, placing them first in the state for elementary schools. This is the sixth year the students have been one of the top schools. In 2005, the school raised more than $18,000. In total, the school has helped to raise more than $70,000 since it became involved with &8220;Jump Rope for Heart.&8221;

Students are also encouraged to learn about the seriousness of heart disease and stroke, the lifelong benefits of physical activity and the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle