New meaning for students, near Ladysmith, taking part in Heart and Stroke fundraiser


Teacher returns to school for unexpected surprise following heart attack

Like a beating heart feet jump on the pavement.

The Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser is a tradition at North Oyster school going back nearly two decades.

But this year the event has special meaning.

“I think it’s pretty cool because i know lots of people at the school like her and love her even,” says Ariel Bell.

“She’s really caring and I know she’s loves everyone and everyone loves her,” says Anika Norfolk. “It’s really special to have a music teacher like that.”

The students are talking about their much loved music teacher who organized the fundraiser in recent years but in November, Mrs. Saunders suffered a heart attack.

Today, she returned to the school for the first time and she doesn’t know she’s in for a surprise.

“We’re celebrating her because she is the heart of our school,” says Organizer Helen Fall. “Mrs. Saunders loves everybody and she has the biggest heart in the world and she always makes time for the kids. She always makes time for staff.”

There’s a special seat reserved for her and a student made mural and as the kids start walking in, she sees that all their shirts read “I’m jumping for Mrs. Saunders.”

Soon Mrs. Saunders is wrapped up in  a sea of hugs.

“Hello. Your shirts,” she remarks. “I’m wondering who you are jumping for this year?”

And before they start jumping Mrs. Saunders says a few words.

“Just lots of love and I was so touched by all of this. Thank-you so much.”

“Speaks to the fact that heart disease, stroke, heart attack, it doesn’t discriminate,” says Regan Grill of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “It’s something that can touch anybody’s life at any point. You never know when it can hit. It just makes the event that much more special to honour somebody that’s actually affected by our cause.”

Following her heart attack Mrs. Saunders had open heart surgery and five bypasses.

“If you have risk factors for your heart make sure you’re getting checked out and monitored,” says Jane Saunders. “Don’t live in denial like I did and live each day. I’m just so blessed that I’m still here.”

This return to the school may have been short and sweet but the longtime teacher says she hopes to be back in the classroom part-time this spring and her students are already jumping for joy knowing she’ll return.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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