Jeff Alderdyce was first introduced to the “Jump Rope for Heart” program back nearly 40 years ago when he was a long-term substitute at Strawberry Hill Elementary in 1982.

Now, in his last year as the physical education teacher where he’s been for more than 20 years, Alderdyce’s final fundraising campaign, the record for the fundraiser was smashed.

Alderdyce set the goal at $8,000, because he always aimed to have the best year ever, but he never expected the final tally to reach more than $13,000.

“I didn’t believe that we’d get anywhere close,” he said. “I’m beyond words…When we got up into $10,000 and $11,000 and the numbers kept coming, I was like, ‘Holy cow!’

“I’m pretty proud of that. No way did I ever think we’d do that, and to do it in my last year was pretty special.”

They didn’t have the fundraiser last year, with school suspended the day before the information was supposed to go out to the kids.

The fundraiser, which raises funds for the American Heart Association, has students collect donations over the course of a few weeks and then jump rope in two classes—though with this year’s COVID schedule that was reduced to one class. It’s always been a special week for the students to be able to raise money while learning about heart health.

“It seems every year we have two or three kiddos that have heart issues,” Alderdyce said, with some even showing off their scars.

Kids can win prizes by raising money and the school can get money back to go toward the purchase of physical education equipment based on how much they raise.

For Alderdyce, that became even more personal after he lost his own father to a heart attack.

“We didn’t even know he had heart issues. The whole deal just became that much more special to me,” he said.

Alderdyce thanked a number of people for helping with the fundraiser, including: Deb Carver, Jordan Bickford, Deneen Jordan, Bobbie Seeley, Laura Secrist and Jen Edson for their help in managing and the Strawberry Hill staff for their guidance and encouragement to the students. He also thanked Shelby Crist, youth market director for the American Heart Association, and Kids Heart Challenge

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