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Norwalk Resident Puts Heart into Hoops for Heart

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Hommocks Middle School video teacher Pedro Johnson oversaw his ninth Hoops for Heart tournament at the Hommocks Middle School Thursday afternoon.

The event, in its 16th year at Hommocks, raises money for the American Heart Association (AHA), which had a representative, Ramona Englebrecht, on hand for the three-on-three basketball tournament for six through eighth graders at the Hommocks gym Thursday.

Johnson, who has taught videography at Hommocks for nine years, jumped on the chance to get involved with Hoops for Hearts.

"The main reason I got involved is I lost my father and older brother to diabetes," said Johnson, who grew up in Monticello, N.Y. "It's close to my heart."

Johnson's grandfather Tom Turner also struggled with heart disease, but lived to be 100. His father, also named Tom Turner passed at the age of 63 and his brother Ted at the age of 67.

Through the Hoops for Heart tournament, Johnson hopes the students will get a better understanding of heart disease and the importance of staying active and eating healthy.

Thursday, teams of three played eight three-minute games. The teams with the best records then played in the semi-finals and then the finals.

All participating students paid a $5 entry fee. For any additional money that students raised, they received a prize. Students who raised $40 to $64.99 received a T-shirt. Other prizes included a mini sports bottle ($5 - $14.99), custom basketball ($65 - $124.49), Z Curve ($125 - $249.99) and Fireball Sureshot ($250-$499.99).

One child raised approximately $500, granting him a Squap – a modified mitt – said Lisa Manheim, an English teacher at Hommocks who helped Johnson run the event this year. Last year, Manheim said one child raised $1,000. If a student had raised that much this year, he or she would have received an electric scooter.

The total amount raised through the Hommocks page of the Hoops for Heart website as of Thursday afternoon was $1,011. But, Manheim said that doesn't count the donations physically collected by students from teachers, friends and neighbors, which has yet to be tallied.

Over the course of the 16 years Hommocks has participated in Hoops for Heart, Johnson said students have raised more than $50,000.

Earlier this year, Chatsworth Avenue School raised $7,500 through a similar program involving jump rope, said Englebrecht, vice president of youth markets for the AHA. Last year, Chatsworth students raised $4,977.

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