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Saintly Skippers raise awareness, money

St. Anthony School's demo team shows other schools how to make jumping rope fun
by: Jonathan House, SKIP AWAY — Megan Robinson, a third-grader at St. Anthony School in Tigard, performs with the St. Anthony Jump Rope for Heart demo team during a rally Friday at the school.

TIGARD - Jumping rope may be an activity reserved for the young at heart, but it's also a sport encouraged for those who want a healthy heart.

For 17 years, the fun of jumping rope hasn't been lost on the students at St. Anthony School in Tigard. Roughly one third of the school's student population- about 125 students - participates in the Jump Rope for Heart demo team.

The sheer number of participants for the sport has made St. Anthony's squad, also known as the Saintly Skippers, the largest demo team in the Portland Metro area, said Lindsie Shelman, youth market director for the American Heart Association in the Portland-Metro area and southwest Washington.

As a demo team, St. Anthony's students are invited to elementary schools throughout the area to show other students how to enjoy Jump Rope for Heart - the jump rope fund-raiser for the American Heart Association. The fund-raiser is designed to promote the value of physical activity to elementary school children while showing students that they can contribute to their community's welfare. Last year, St. Anthony School raised about $2,700.

Shelman noted that about 145 schools in southwest Washington and the Portland-Metro area participate in the Jump Rope for Heart fund-raiser.

St. Anthony students give demonstrations at schools on basic jump-roping techniques and a few tricks as well.

'I'm really impressed by the level of commitment (that students show,)' said St. Anthony PE teacher Julie Sieg, who has organized the jump-rope demo team at the school for the last 17 years.

The first team at the school had just 12 members. Sieg takes a deep breath when estimating the 125 members in first through eighth grade that now fill the ranks of the school's jump-roping teams.

'Once you start, you just can't let it go… (The jump rope team) has grown so much,' Sieg said.

The cord ropes slapped against the wooden gym floor Friday at St. Anthony School as teams of girls and boys showed off their jump-roping tricks. Some double Dutch, a can-can dancing move, some speedy revolutions of the rope and even a trick with shooting a basketball all while jumping rope were just some of the stunts displayed during a day of performances for the school's three demo teams.

'Pretty much anything goes,' Sieg said about the tricks that her students come up with on their own.

And while the goal of the fund-raising event may be to motivate youth to activity, Sieg is adamant that jumping rope is like any other exercise or sport.

'Jumping rope is not just for the young of heart,' Sieg said.