Carleton Place, Ont. school is top fundraiser in Canada for 'Jump Rope for Heart'

St. Gregory's Catholic Elementary School in Carleton Place, Ont. is the top fundraising school in Canada for the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Jump Rope for Heart campaign this year.

Ending this coming Friday, St. Gregory has raised more than $23,000 in the past month for Heart and Stroke.

"That is incredible," says Stephanie Brownlee, a Grade 2 teacher at St. Gregory and the school's organizer of Jump Rope for Heart.

"We're so thankful to have such a generous community. We never expected that; we were just doing it for the fun of getting outside and doing some physical activity."

This year's event is the first in-person jump rope event in three years due to the pandemic, and the teacher's at this kindergarten to Grade 3 school were surprised at how well the students jumped right in.

"Some knew how to skip, some didn't know how to skip," Brownlee tells CTV News. "So we've been watching videos on learning to skip, we used hula hoops to start; we come outside and practiced every day."

A motivating factor in the school's success may be the personal connection to Heart and Stroke this year.

"I told the kids my story," says St. Gregory principal Paula Perrault, "which is that my husband had a stroke a year ago, so it's kind of personal and many of them identified who they're jumping for. Some of them are jumping for my husband Bob and some are jumping for family members, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles."

"They knew that we were helping people directly," adds Brownlee. "It wasn't just, we're doing something that they couldn't see."

The school is made up of just under 500 students, all kindergarten to Grade 3, making the feat being top in the country for fundraising even more impressive.

"It's great that the kids are highlighted for what they've done and they've put in a lot of effort into learning how to jump," says Perrault. "And they've made that personal connection that they're jumping for somebody."