(Feb. 22, 2019) Buckingham Elementary School gym teacher Joan Martin has led “Jump Rope for Heart” campaigns in Worcester Schools for nearly four decades.

Last Wednesday, she set a personal fundraising best, bringing in more than $12,000.

Schools across Worcester County last week participated in the fundraiser, an annual drive that teaches children about their hearts while raising money for the American Heart Association.

Martin has organized Jump Rope for Heart events at Buckingham in Berlin for the last 30 years. Prior to that, she led similar drives for seven years at Pocomoke and Stephen Decatur high schools.

She’s been teaching for 41 years and joked her involvement in Jump Rope for Heart began when “they roped me into it.”

“It makes my heart feel so good. It’s the best thing,” Martin said. “It’s always great to give back, and these children are giving back and I love them for it.”

Martin guessed she’s help raise more than six figures over the years.

“I have no idea, but it’s a lot – at least $100,000,” she said. “Last year they did [$10,000], so I think they’ve even beat that, but I like to be surprised with the kids.”

Joan Martin

Buckingham Elementary School gym teacher Joan Martin last Wednesday announces the school raised more than $12,000 during a “Jump Rope for Heart” campaign benefiting the American Heart Association. Countywide, Worcester schools raised more than $60,000 during Jump Rope for Heart events.

During the event at Buckingham, more than 100 children, along with scores more parents and other relatives, gathered in the gym after school to jump rope and hula hoop, and listen to music played over a PA system by the school music teacher.

Shortly before 4 p.m., Martin asked the students to gather around as school secretary Diane Parsons prepared to unveil a sign announcing the total amount raised this year. It read $12,429, a new school record.

“I’ve been doing this 30-some years – that is the most ever raised,” Martin told the crowd of children and their parents. “Boys and girls, relatives – I cannot thank you enough.”

At schools countywide, more than $60,000 was raised through Jump Rope for Heart, according to Carrie N. Sterrs, coordinator of public relations and special programs for Worcester County Schools.

Leading the effort was Ocean City Elementary School, which collected $30,856. Showell Elementary School raised $14,951, Pocomoke Elementary School amassed $5,385, and Pocomoke Middle School raised more than $1,700.

Sterrs said Berlin Intermediate School raised more than $4,000 from online fundraising, with final figures expected later this week.

Additionally, Snow Hill Elementary School scheduled a “Hoops for Heart” event on April 5.

Josh Davis is an MDDC award-winning editor and reporter at the Bayside Gazette and Ocean City Today newspapers, covering Berlin and Ocean Pines, Maryland. He is the author of three novels, including 'Vanishing is the Last Art' (2012). He lives in Berlin.

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