by Lisa Tome
After being disappointed twice by not making the school's basketball team, Perryville High School junior Jack Duff finally had his day.
Duff nailed nine free throws in under a minute, besting Greg Riley who is a member of the basketball team.
"He (Duff) won," said Riley. But both teens said it was more about the fundraising than the friendly competition.
For the second year, Perryville High School participated in Hoops for Heart, a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. The event has students collecting pledges for the organization in exchange for small gifts and two days of fun and fundraising during phys. ed. classes. Students also earn service learning hours, a graduation requirement.
"They need 75 service learning hours from ninth to 12th grade. Most come to ninth grade with hours already. With the planning and the fundraising they can earn 45-50 hours," said teacher Gina Pucci.
Pucci said the students had 34 days of preparation prior to Hoops for Heart. A kick off assembly was also held in an effort to shine a spotlight on the cause. A year ago, Perryville High raised $4,200 for the heart association. With another week of fundraising to go, they had collected $3,500 last week.
"The freshman didn't really know about it. We're asking them to care about something other than themselves," said Pucci. She said students were encouraged to fundraise, using online donations or donate themselves. They were required to collect $10 in order to participate in the event. The event was run as round robin with students competing in three-on-three and foul shooting. "One of my sophomores gave $50 because a family member was diagnosed with heart disease. A lot of them took money out of their own pockets and said 'I want to help’," said Pucci.
Freshman Kristen Schoerner knew something about the American Heart Association prior to Hoops for Heart. She participated in Jump Rope for Heart in elementary school. "I raised $150. My mom got her friends to help. I keep having this feeling that I want to help more and this is somewhere to start," said Schoerner.
Shawn Huth, also a freshman, sent online links about the fundraiser to family members. He raised $120. "I saw the videos from the American Heart Association and wanted to help them out, give people a better life," said Huth.
Eva Santi, a junior, also got used to helping the AHA. She also participated in Jump Rope for Heart years ago. A year ago, she raised $50 for the AHA. This year, she doubled that. "I've always been taught to donate so I tried and my family helped out," said Santi.
Nathan Kiger is in ninth grade. He raised $80. "My grandmother died from heart disease. So the cause means something to me," he said.
Teacher David Ruark said every student was registered online. "This is an amazing benefit for the heart association. It's more word of mouth than anything," said Ruark.
Ninth grader Jake Helensky said he was glad to get some service learning hours under his belt. He raised $100. "My family helped me raise the money," said Helensky.
"This (competition) is more about luck than skills. We could have somebody out here that's shining because they are doing it for their aunt or uncle. Some of the motivation is that it's fun. It gives to a good cause and they are having a good time," added Pucci.
Last year, only Rising Sun and Perryville High were the county participants. Pucci said this year, North East High joined.
Pucci said a goal is to get participation from all the county high schools.