'Jump Rope for Heart' celebrates 35 years

CREATED Feb 21, 2014

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MILWAUKEE -- "Jump Rope for Heart." You've probably heard of it before, it's the event that raises money for heart disease and stroke prevention. 

But here's something you probably didn't know. The very first one was held here in Milwaukee 35 years ago.
 
Hundreds gathered at Riverside High School Friday to honor Jean Barkow.  She's the one who came up with the idea back in 1978.
 
Why jumping rope you might ask? Barkow said it gets kids active and appeals to both boys and girls.

It's grown to be the largest charitable activity in the world.
 
"I didn't think it would ever, ever get to be this big..." Barkow said. "I'm just thrilled to be here today. To have done that activity with just the neatest 127 young students."
 
The very first jump roping event was called  "Jump-Rope-A-Thon." The students raised just over $2,000. Since then more than $700 million has been raised.  
 
Riverside schools' gym has been renamed "Jean Barkow Gymnasium" to honor Barkow's accomplishments.