In the late 1970s, Jean Barkow, of Milwaukee Riverside High School, held the first “rope-a-thon” with her local AHA chapter. Following the event, Jean attended an AAHPERD Public Relations Conference in Chicago where she talked about her event with Faye Biles, chair of the NASPE PEPI Projects. They discussed the potential of that project as a national fund raising event and in 1977 Illinois held the first event as a pilot program. In 1978 the program went national and AHA and AAHPERD launched Jump Rope For Heart.
AHA and AAHPERD formed an agreement that shaped the program and includes an educational component to promote cardiovascular health in the schools. The Joint Projects Committee was established with volunteers from AHA and AAHPERD to help develop new ideas for the program.
Jump Rope For Heart demonstration teams helped in the promotion of the fund raising event. The teams traveled to schools to promote jumping skills and the event. The first jump rope demonstration team was formed in Colorado.
Each participating state established state task forces and representatives were invited to national workshops where participants shared ideas on fund raising, educational materials, and demonstration teams. Eight national workshops were held before regional workshops were established to help involve more people.