This is a slightly modified letter I sent to my niece’s principal at the request of her mother, my sister-in-law. I redacted the name of the school and the principal, but the sentiment is extensible to any school. Feel free to steal it and modify it for your own schools if you feel similarly.
Dear Mr. Principal:My sister-in-law, Sarah told me about her concerns regarding Jump Rope for Heart at your school. I wanted to share our family’s experiences with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) and the American Heart Association (AHA) so you can understand why this is such a touchy issue for the Adams family.In 2003, my son Liam (Sarah’s nephew and Lily’s cousin) was born with only half of his heart. He is now in third grade. Liam has had twelve heart surgeries, nearly died three different times and is facing his thirteenth heart surgery this summer. With all of that drama in our lives, I wanted to make a difference and I raised over $20,000 for the American Heart Association with help from Sarah and our entire extended family. I spoke in front of 10,000 people at the Heart Walk and Liam was in several media campaigns with the AHA.Imagine my heart-breaking disappointment when I spoke with the regional representatives at the AHA and learned that less than 1% of the income of the AHA goes to Congenital Heart Defect initiatives and research. What’s worse, I’ve received letters from the AHA (attached) as recently as 2010 establishing that indeed the amount is still at 1%. Yet they use CHD kids in 100% of their advertising. They say the would fund more CHD research if it is accepted, but since their entire medical advisory board is stacked with doctors who practice adult onset cardiology there is a firewall against pediatric heart defect projects, and most of the many pediatric cardiologists I interface with know that they’re chances of funding do not justify the efforts of assembling a grant proposal for the AHA.Jump Rope money does NOT go to help kids like Liam. It goes to adult onset cardiovascular disease initiatives and childhood obesity programs. Quite frankly, I support childhood obesity programs, but the AHA uses false advertising exploiting children like my son and manipulating students and parents like Lily and Sarah to raise money for other issues.I would recommend that you opt out of the 30,000+ US schools doing Jump Rope for the AHA and host your own jump rope activity and keep the money for your own school’s physical education program to improve and expand health initiatives for your own students. If you really want to help children like Liam with Congenital Heart Defects, I would recommend that you donate funds to either the Children’s Hospital Heart Institute or The Children’s Heart Foundation.Most kindly,Amanda Rose Adams