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Students shine in JAR of Hope LEGO activity

Eric Sucar
Students of all grades work together to try and create a world record for the longest LEGO chain, at Clark Mills School in Manalapan on September 13. The event was a fundraiser for the JAR of Hope organization and to bring further awareness to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

By Mark Rosman
Staff Writer

MANALAPAN – Heartfelt concern for a fellow student inspired pupils from the Clark Mills and Milford Brook schools to set three world records on Sept. 13.

The students, staff members and school administrators made the effort on behalf of the JAR of Hope Foundation.

JAR of Hope, founded by Jim and Karen Raffone of Manalapan in 2013, raises funds to find a cure for a rare and fatal form of childhood Muscular Dystrophy called Duchenne. Without a cure, the disease’s mostly male victims are in wheelchairs by their early teens and in graves by their early 20’s, according to a press release.

The Raffones’ son, Jamesy, 7, who attends the Clark Mills School, has Duchenne.

The Clark Mills and Milford Brook pupils set the following records, according to Steve Winston, who chronicles efforts that benefit JAR of Hope:

• Time needed to set up 10,000 LEGO Links (the larger, rectangular pieces that anchor the smaller pieces together) – Previous record: 8 hours; Time at Clark Mills, 3 hours, 42 minutes

• Longest LEGO chain on record – Previous record: 2,961 feet; LEGO chain at Clark Mills, 3,108 linear feet

• Cleanup time for all LEGO pieces – Previous record: Unknown, because no one had ever created a longer LEGO chain than the pupils did on Sept. 13; Cleanup time at Clark Mills, 6 minutes, 3 seconds, for more than 235,000 LEGO pieces.

Following the event, Jim Raffone said, “The day was a huge success. The principals at both schools worked synergistically with the faculty, custodians, parents, teachers and, of course, the students. Everyone was determined to see us set a new world record.

“I hope this event has sent a clear message to the Duchenne community – that JAR of Hope will be relentless in its search for a cure for this deadly disease. We will not stop until every child with Duchenne can stand up and say, ‘I’ve survived Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy!’, ” Raffone said.

Clark Mills Principal Jayme Orlando said, “This event was extremely personal for the children, teachers and staff of Clark Mills and Milford Brook because Jamesy is a student in Clark Mills and in the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District.

“Everyone was thrilled to work together to accomplish the task of breaking these world records, but more importantly, it meant so much to our school communities to raise awareness about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy to help Jamesy Raffone,” she said.

Milford Brook Principal Jodi Pepchinski said, “Our students and staff were very excited, not only about the LEGO chain, but also about community service.”

Students built the chain with pieces donated by Play-Well Teknologies.

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