Hoops for Heart pumps up kids
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent June 14, 2012 3:26PM
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson watches Quincy Etman, 7, of Gary, use a Hula Hoop during the annual Hoops for Heart event held in Gary, Ind., Friday, May 25, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~For Sun-Times Media
For more information on “Hoops for Heart” go to
Updated: June 14, 2012 3:26PM
Students at Gary Lighthouse Charter School, 725 Clark Road, participated in the fifth annual Hoops for Heart event May 25.
Hoops for Heart is sponsored by the American Heart Association and promotes a lifestyle for a healthy heart through exercise and sports like basketball.
At the school’s courtyard, Lighthouse charter’s athletic director Kia Matthews has the students warm up with jumping jacks, running in place and pushups. The younger students then alternate through jumping rope and using Hula Hoops. The older students play rounds of three-on-three basketball.
“I also decided to add a bike ride for some of the older students. Along with a Gary police escort they were able to ride their bikes from the school to Tri-City Plaza and back,” Matthews said.
Fourth-grader Mireinn Keith, 10, said she loves to Hula Hoop.
“I even Hula Hoop at home. I think this is a great event; it keeps you going,” she said.
Fellow fourth-grader Arnay Battle, 11, said she likes to Hula Hoop and jump rope. “It’s a lot of fun and gives me a big workout,” she said.
The highlight of the event was when Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson arrived at the school wearing workout gear from her college alma mater Harvard and a pair of gym shoes. Freeman-Wilson jumped rope and played three-on-three with some of the children, gaining quite the workout in the hot weather.
“Some mornings before I head to the office, I go to either Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center or the YWCA and shoot 100 baskets in the gymnasium. It is definitely a workout,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Matthews and the mayor are longtime friends, Roosevelt High School alumni and former teammates on Roosevelt’s girls’ basketball team, the Lady Panthers.
Matthews presented Freeman-Wilson with a thank-you plaque that featured a black-and-white group photo of their team as 1977 Gary Sectional Champions.
Freeman-Wilson praised Matthews’ dedication to staying in Gary and working with children to make them better people.
“When you have a lot of citizens who stay or return to the city to work in the community for the greater good, it says something. That is what it is about,” Freeman-Wilson said.