CALDWELL, NJ - For thirteen years, Lincoln Elementary School students have reserved the last Friday in March for the American Heart Association, jump roping to raise more than $30,000. The event, which began with a flyer that arrived at the school thirteen years ago, has grown into a highly anticipated annual event at the Caldwell school – the annual Jump Rope for Heart. This year, the event, held on March 22, was a huge success with more than 90 third, fourth and fifth-grade students participating and raising $4625 for the American Heart Association. 

Coordinated by school nurse Maryann Ciesla, R.N. and physical education instructor Sheila Zeman, the event is held each year on the last Friday of March. Students sign in and are directed to one of six stations around the school’s multi-purpose room. The activities range from individual jumping stations, to team jump roping, hopscotch, double dutch and more. Students begin at one station and progress around the room until they have completed all six stations.

Gabriella Canonaco, a fourth grader   
Credit: Jeff Steifbold

“A real highlight of the night is “jumping in the dark”,” said Ciesla. “Students can purchase glow sticks during the lunch period at school and again during the event and dance to traditional line dance songs, including YMCA, the Cotton-Eyed Joe, Cha-Cha Slide and more. The teachers and administrators join in and everyone has a great time.” 

Students Tabby Spitz, Gianna LaValle and Sabrina
Russomanno take a brief break from jumping  
Credit: Jeff Steifbold

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The teachers and administrators have so much fun in fact that Ciesla and Zeman have no trouble recruiting their peers to participate in the voluntary Friday night event. Each year, nearly half of the school’s staff volunteer at the event, turning jump ropes, manning the stations or even attempting to double dutch. This year, nearly 20 current and former teachers and staff members helped by twirling ropes, registering students, selling glow sticks and more.

Nearly twenty Lincoln School teachers and staff members took part in the Jump
Rope for Heart event.  Credit: Jeff Steifbold

Jump Rope For Heart is a national educational fund-raising program that is sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).   Elementary students engage in a physical activity (jumping rope) while raising funds to support lifesaving heart and stroke research. The students ask friends and family for donations and receive thank-you gifts based on the dollars that they raise. The program teaches physical fitness while promoting the value of community service to students and their families, showing students that they can contribute to their community's welfare. 

Lincoln Elementary School Principal Adam Geher
(background) helps twirl the rope for student Kayla Jones  Credit: Jeff Steifbold

For further information:
Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education
Superintendent: Dr. James Heinegg
Publicity Coordinator:  Christine Corliss
Harrison School Building
104 Gray Street
West Caldwell, NJ 07006

For more information “Jump Rope For Heart” or other programs sponsored by the American Heart Association, visit