P.S./M.S. 114Q Jumps in to Stomp Out Heart Disease

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P.S./M.S.114Q knows how to put the fun iS./M.S.114Q knows how to put the fun in fundraising. Silly string and a marathon of movement were front and center at their sixth annual Jump-A-Thon, held to benefit the American Heart Association (AHA). The school topped more than $17,000, snagging the first place spot among 1,700 New York City schools.

Pre-K through eighth graders jumped, skipped, twisted and showed off their best dance moves during 30 minutes of nonstop movement to tunes provided by DJs at Work, who volunteer their time, all to raise awareness of heart disease and remember two of their own, student Christian Benetiz and teacher Mrs. Bell, who both died from cardiac conditions.

Six years ago, middle school teacher and chapter advisor for the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), Laura Ferragamo brought Jump-A -Thon to the school following the death of Benetiz, a seventh grade student. 

“I remember when Christian passed, everyone in this community pitched in: the administration, the Parents’ Association, the Graybeards, Rockaway WISH and so many more,” Ferragamo said. “This is the most charitable community I’ve ever seen. I call it ‘the community that can’. Jump-A-Thon is one way we continue to teach our children the importance of giving back.” 

“What this school community did is nothing short of inspirational,” Brian T. Jones, senior regional director at the AHA said on his visit to the school on Wednesday, June 6, to meet the budding philanthropists and acknowledge their substantial contribution.

“I work with about 1,700 schools in NYC and what I see here embodies the mission of this project, which is to empower kids and help fight heart disease by showing them how easy it is to integrate movement into their day,” Jones said. “There’s a unique level of parental engagement, backed by the administration here that really honors the importance of giving back.”

And give back they do, every month, with their  “Dress for a Cause” initiative which raises money for charities supporting breast cancer, juvenile diabetes and Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts. To date, donations exceed $5,000 and factor in the $17,011 from Jump-A-Thon, P.S./M.S. 114 is closing in on nearly $22,000. 

Some say the dangling carrot driving this frenetic fundraising campaign is the paying it forward aspect of giving back, while others think it’s the positive impact of being part of the movement to help cure heart disease, but ask the kids, and they don’t miss a beat with their reply: “To silly string the seniors!” 

On a balmy 75-degree day last week, the top fundraisers finally got to do just that as the first senior, Dylan Loconte donned his shower cap, secured his protective ski goggles and stepped into the tiny plastic kiddie pool set up in the school yard, prepared for the colorful assault about to occur. With chants of “Dylan, Dylan,” followed by “Ready, set, go get em!,” the first group aimed their silly string cans, furiously discharging them onto their target. 

Within a few seconds, the cans emptied and the next senior took to the pool. “That was awesome!” a fifth grader squealed as she exited the ring.

Everyone agrees it’s all in good fun. Despite the cheers of “Go get em’ kids,” to start the barrage, each round ended with rousing applause, giggles, and shouts of “way to go seniors!”

And the icing on the cake for the group? Before Jones, the AHA representative  left the schoolyard, he too, suited up, took to the kiddie pool and got ‘stringed.” All for a good cause.  

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