Rob Ellis made good and puckered up Wednesday.
Ellis, principal at Armstrong’s Highland Park Elementary, challenged his students to raise more than $4,000 for The Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope For Heart program. If they did, Ellis would kiss a farm animal in front of the school.
The students heartily accepted the challenge and raised $6,362.20, including nearly $900 between two students, who each received a T-shirt for their efforts.
“I am so proud of all of you. You all did a great job,” said Ellis, who then, after receiving Avon red lipstick from head librarian Michele Lee, went Llip to Llip with an orphaned rescued llama named Willow, whose owner, Kelly Brown, brought the animal to the gym.
Students and staff were kept in the dark about what kind of animal would be brought in for Ellis to smooch. A guess chart on the office window showed a pig as the most popular guess.
Before Willow was brought in, students were instructed not to cheer out loud for fear of spooking the llama,but were told to greet her with jazz hands or silent screams of delight.
Willow was taken throughout the gym after the kiss – complete with red lipstick smear on her white nose – so the kids could get an up-close look at the llama.
Jump Rope for Heart is The Heart Foundation’s skipping and fundraising program run in schools throughout the year. It encourages kids to have a positive attitude towards exercise, healthy eating and heart health while raising vital funds to fight heart disease.
Highland Park students have been participating in Jump Rope For Heart for 12 years, and have raised more than $76,500.