This year's Jackalope Jump was one for the ages. It was the first proper Jackalope Jump in a few years, due to COVID-19. And it raised a lot of money for Special Olympics Wyoming.

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A big reason for that was because of the effort of Manor Heights Elementary students. The Jaguars, as they're called, raised $24,000 for Special Olympics.

That's according to a press release from the Natrona County School District, who wrote that, for the 7th year in a row, the Jaguars participated in the Jackalope Jump event.

The release states that students spent the month of February learning about Special Olympics Wyoming and everything the organization does for its athletes, and for the community. This includes an actual unit in gym class, led by the Manor Heights Physical Education teacher, Mr. Vondra.

“The idea is to raise awareness for Special Olympics and the inclusiveness and opportunities that they offer," Vondra said. "We do different disability awareness activities in PE so the students can tie the information and understanding of inclusion together.”

Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County School District
Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County School District

Prior to the Jackalope Jump event, a school assembly is held in which the total amount of money raised by students is announced to the entire school.

"It's one of the highlights of the event,” Manor Heights Principal Thompson said. “The looks on their faces as their names are announced, the excitement and the nerves. It’s a blend of excitement and knowing they just did something important."

And that, they are.

Read More: Jackalope Jump Raises More than $30K for Special Olympics Wyoming

Principal Thompson stated that, all throughout the school year, Manor Heights works to foster an environment of community leaders and exceptional learners.

“This is how we grow young citizens at our school; it’s always been one of the pieces that we focus on, right along with reading, writing, math," Principal Thompson said. "It’s how you learn to become a good citizen.  One way you become a good citizen is giving back when a need is there. Staff, students, families, and our community…when there’s a need, our Manor Heights community always steps up. I am amazingly proud of our Manor Heights School community for supporting the Frozen Jags in the Jackalope Jump by raising money for such a great cause.”

The students, themselves, were proud as well.

Kindergarten student Karli was excited to participate in her first Jackalope Jump. She had seen her brother do it before and she knew how important the event was to Special Olympics Wyoming. She said it's super important to give back to others, if and when you can.

“Sometimes people might get sad, and it makes them happier to cheer them up," she said.

Adam, a 4th grader, agreed.

This was Adam's fourth year participating and, this year, he was the school's top fundraiser. Adam said he went door-to-door collecting donations because he believes it's important to “raise money for other kids so that they can do the same sports and things as me. It makes me feel amazing!"

At the event, the 'Jumping Jaguars' finally got their turn to jump into the very, very, cold pool. But they were "freezin' for a reason' and that reason was incredibly important. One by one, the students jumped into the pool. And when they came out of it, the smiles on their faces couldn't have been bigger.

Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County School District
Photo Courtesy of the Natrona County School District

“It is a great feeling to see our school come together every year to help support such a great cause," Mr. Vondra said. "Participating in any fundraiser is a family commitment, so the success of the Jackalope Jump is really a true testament to the amazing kids and families we have here at Manor Heights. Participating in community events really gives students the chance to appreciate others’ abilities. My favorite part is seeing students’ faces when it’s “go time”; it’s a mixture of nervousness and pure joy!”

2023 Jackalope Jump Benefitting Special Olympics Wyoming

It was a sight to behold at the Casper Family Aquatic Center on Friday night, as hundreds of people gathered to support Special Olympics Wyoming at the 2023 Jackalope Jump event.

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