PONTIAC - High schools across the country usually don't hand out prizes for students who win a free-throw tournament during their physical education period.
But that isn't the case at Pontiac Township High School, which is starting its third Hoops for Heart program. The program encourages students to raise money for the American Heart Association.
"We are physical educators, and we wanted to donate to an organization concerning issues and problems which are health-related," said physical education teacher Betty Murphy.
Students will participate in events conducted in their gym classes, such as free-throw and lay-up contests and an around-the-world game. Teams will be made up among students who have pledged to look for donations.
Last year, the high school raised $2,200 for the American Heart Association. So far this year, students have raised more than $500.
Murphy said the fundraiser began through the efforts of Jeanne Rutter, who retired as a PE teacher last year. Rutter remains active in the program.
Hoops for Heart has raised more than $50 million for the American Heart Association since it began in 1995.
Lea Stone, youth market director for the American Heart Association, said proceeds go toward research projects and community awareness.
Stone said heart issues in young adults are more prevalent then ever as various health issues and childhood obesity continue to remain a problem.
"We take part in advocacy of things like smoking bans and making sure that students have physical education in school every day," she said. "We want to be sure that we have an overall healthier generation."