SALEM, OR, March 23, 2023 — Chuck Larimer’s mohawks aren’t the only reason his students have been participating in Kids Heart Challenge for 23 years, but the crazy haircuts certainly make it more memorable!
Larimer teaches physical education at Stayton Elementary, in Stayton, Oregon. The American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge has been part of his curriculum since 2000 when he discovered the program at a physical education conference.
The program is an American Heart Association initiative that allows students to improve their own health by doing things like cardio-based activities, making pledges to stay active, and doing good deeds in the community. There’s also an opportunity for kids to help raise funds for life-saving heart research. In Larimer’s school, when his students meet their school fundraising goal he is ready to make things interesting.
“Often this involves my hair!” Larimer said. “It started with me completely shaving my head bald.”
In the ensuing years, Larimer has gotten a mohawk, a sideways mohawk and a double mohawk. He’s currently sporting a corner-to-corner mohawk thanks to his students raising a new school record, $13,426.
"Our previous school record last year was just under $8,000, so we absolutely crushed our goal," Larimer said. “It’s great because it’s an awesome cause; helping hurting hearts. Just being able to find a way for our littles to help others in our community is the main driving force behind why I do this every year.”
Since he introduced the program to Stayton Elementary, the school has raised nearly $120,000 for the American Heart Association. Larimer will proudly tell you that every $50 donated represents a life saved by heart research. This year his students helped save about 268 lives, bringing the total to nearly 2,400 lives saved.
"I try to involve everybody in our school," Larimer said. "This year our school has 355 students. I try to make this event more like a party. I combine classes throughout the day."
A typical physical education class takes 30 minutes, but on Kids Heart Challenge day, two classes join for an hour of activities, Larimer said.
"We have eight stations, including a couple of jump rope stations, a long rope station, running, ski jump - jumping over a line, and a water break," he said.
"The American Heart Association uses funds for life-saving research, including teaching others Hands-Only CPR," Larimer said. "Anybody that watched Monday Night Football and Damar Hamlin knows the importance of time when it comes to saving someone's life who suffers from cardiac arrest."
“Chuck is a tremendous volunteer for the American Heart Association,” said Emily Anderly, American Heart Association Senior Director. “He is so dedicated to our life-saving mission and committed to impacting the lives of his students. We’re deeply grateful he has chosen to work with us for 23 years!”
The Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge school programs provide unique age-appropriate curriculum and activities. Students and educators have the tools needed to support both mental and physical well-being in students, families and staff, all while making a difference by raising funds to save lives. Learn more at heart.org/KHC.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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