Student carrying a school lunch tray

Nearly 8,000 students and 72 Jefferson County schools raised a record $272,000 for the American Heart Association this year, making it the top fundraising district in Kentucky and No. 12 in the nation.

“It is a daily inspiration to witness the dedication to community involvement and the tireless service among so many JCPS students and employees,” said Donna Hargens, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, who accepted the association’s leadership award to spotlight the district’s support of youth programs. “I am so proud of the schools where education is meeting action and advocacy.”

The American Heart Association’s Jump Rope For Heart, Hoops for Heart and HeartChase fundraising programs help teach students the importance of getting enough physical activity, eating right and not smoking. The association uses the funds for research, education and quality improvement initiatives.

The American Heart Association says kids need at least one hour of physical activity a day to maintain a healthy heart, but many don’t get the chance to do it. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, obesity and other problems.