It was a marvel to behold: kindergartners through fifth-graders, teachers, assistants, and yes, even the principal, in fact, practically all of Guggenheim Elementary School, enthusiastically joining forces to jump rope and thereby raise funds for the fourth annual "Jump for Leukemia." The recent event really had the school jumping -- with a single rope, across a line on the floor, using jumping bands, or the ever-challenging Double Dutch -- to help the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1987 by Port Washington's Herb and Evelyn Strauss, and their daughter, Julie, to battle the disease that took the life of daughter Lauri, 26, in 1984.
The Jumpathon, organized by physical education teachers Stan Makover and Jean Vogeley, took place between January 29 and February 2. This year three stations were offered to the children and other participants: Jump bands, which go around the ankles, the traditional long rope, and a new addition, double-Dutch jumping, using two ropes. "If someone couldn't jump, they turned the rope," said Mrs. Vogeley, adding, "The double-Dutch just took off!" And while it was fun, it was also meaningful. ""Not only is this for cardiovascular fitness," said Mrs. Vogeley, "but the most important point is that they are helping others." The purpose of the Jumpathon was explained to the students, in an age-appropriate and non-threatening manner, said Julie Strauss Safran. And the meaning of the activities did, indeed, reach the children. "I'm going to jump so hard to get rid of this disease," one third-grader was overheard saying.
Though the monies raised exceeded expectations, it was the unilateral participation and commitment of all at Guggenheim that most impressed Julie Strauss Safran. "It's like an extended family at Guggenheim," she said. "All the faculty and support staff's love of doing this is so apparent. It really reaches the kids."
For Guggenheim fifth-grader Emily Safran, niece of the late Lauri Strauss, it was especially meaningful. "I want to thank everyone for jumping and for all the work they've done in the fight against leukemia," she said. The Jumpathon is also quite meaningful for her brother, Gregory,who was always involved when he was a Guggenheim student (he is currently a Weber eighth-grader). Herb and Evelyn Strauss said with gratitude, "It is wonderful and emotionally thrilling to see young people , their parents, and their teachers, involved in giving of themselves." Guggenheim Principal Linda Creash added, "Each year, the event gets better and better, and generates enthusiasm for healthy exercise for children as well as providing an opportunity for our kids to participate in this worthwhile cause."
The efforts of everyone at Guggenheim School will make a difference. The funds raised at the "Jump for Leukemia" are contributed to the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation, which grants awards to researchers studying the disease. In addition, the Foundation has supported patient care programs and educational lectures. Since 1993, the Foundation has also sponsored 21 bone-marrow donor drives in the New York area. Other Port schools have held fund raisers to fight leukemia as well; Weber, for instance, will hold a a faculty volleyball game this spring. Mrs. Vogeley expressed everyone's wish when she said, "Hopefully, in the children's lifetime, there will be a cure."
It might "take a village to raise a child," but in Port Washington, it took one special family plus a caring school -- the students, families, teachers, staff, principal -- to aid an important cause and remember one special , vibrant young woman.