Visitor makes assembly jump to a (heart)warming time for students

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Colby Elliott, with his mother Sheila Elliot, and Nicole Swansinger, American Heart Association Youth Marketing Director, reveal the final tally to the primary school students. They raised $31,029.23 for the American Heart Association.

Sheila and Colby Elliott, surrounded by Greencastle-Antrim Primary School students, watch a video about Colby’s early life with a serious heart condition. The assembly March 12 celebrated the fundraising results of Jump Rope for Heart.

Teachers lining the auditorium held a paper chain, with each link containing a student’s handwritten message for Colby.

“There’s Colby.” “Hi Colby!”

Youngsters filed into the Greencastle-Antrim Primary School auditorium last Wednesday morning, expressing awe at the sight of a 10-year old boy in the front of the room. The walls were lined with welcome posters, including “We Love Colby”.

The Jump Rope for Heart assembly was special this year because Colby was present. Jump Rope for Heart coordinater Trish Schriver, the G-APS wellness teacher, had facilitated communication between Colby and the students for the past four years. The Texas boy has been featured in American Heart Association promotional videos due to his multiple heart surgeries. He captured the hearts of the local students upon their first viewing.

“Colby is in the house!” Schriver yelled, and cheers filled the room.

Colby and Sheila Elliott shared their story with the crowd, and took part in the awards program. G-APS raised $31,029.23 for the American Heart Association.

The children gasped when Elliott explained that Colby would have died if he did not get his first operation when he was just days old. Colby said hospitals weren’t that bad. With room service, he could even order pizza for breakfast.

Schriver was honored by American Heart Association representatives for her Jump Rope for Heart work through the years. The top fundraising students, assisted by Colby, sprayed her and two administrators with Silly String.

The students shared why they participated in Jump Rope for Heart.

“I have a nice friend, Mr. Paul, who has been in the hospital dealing with heart problems,” said Shelby Zimmerman. “I wanted to jump for him.”

Josh Wolff said it made him feel good to jump for the school, community and sick kids. Carson Horst wanted to help people needing surgery. Maria Gorbsky was jumping for her brother.

“I’m so happy I could help,” said Carmella Poper.

Madison Kline summed up what most jumpers probably also felt. “I get to raise money for the school and for Colby. It makes me feel alive.”

Colby and his mom traveled to speaking engagements in other schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to make the most out of their trip to the northeast.