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Heart health, CPR training emphasized in John A. Sciole fundraiser


Students and families at the Lancaster Central School District’s John A. Sciole Elementary were able to learn about heart healthy choices and even CPR skills as they raised thousands of dollars to support the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge.

“The kids are learning life skills, they’re getting active, there’s so many good messages,” said John Dugan, physical education teacher who has led the school’s campaign for nineteen years, raising more than $117,000. “It’s a win-win.”

This year, students were able to raise $9,650.70, exceeding the school’s goal of $8,000. In addition to supporting the association’s scientific research and outreach programs, schools participating in the challenge are also able to earn money toward new physical education equipment.

“It shows the generosity of our community that we’ve never missed our goals,” Dugan said. 

One Wednesday morning during the challenge, third grade students in Dugan’s class were working on their jump roping skills, which gave them a chance to talk about the value of staying active. Dugan, who alternated between holding a larger rope to allow students to jump and getting in the jumping himself, said he was first drawn to supporting the effort after seeing how heart-related ailments had impacted a student, and then how heart-related ailments affected the community. 

“Every year, we have students, we have families that are affected by heart disease,” he said.

The teacher said this year’s campaign included an emphasis on hands-only CPR lessons for families. Those lessons became more relevant following prominent news coverage in recent months regarding emergency CPR, including lifesaving treatment for Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin.

“It ties in these skills so perfectly,” Dugan said. “The lessons are so easy for families to watch together.”

Dugan said he was always amazed to see how the challenge brings the school together each year. To celebrate the students’ fundraising efforts, Dugan and other staff will put themselves on the receiving end of a pie to the face at an upcoming assembly.

“Everybody in the building is helping with this,” Dugan said. “It’s tremendous to see that kind of support.”

To learn more about the school’s efforts in the challenge, visit