On January 5, 2018, the Bouncing Bulldogs kicked off the 2nd Annual International Kenzie
Ruston Legacy Jump-A-Thon at 4:00 pm in the Bouncing Bulldogs Community Center (BBCC). For the next 24 hours, there would be at least one person jumping in the Bounce Booth to ensure that all 1,440 minutes were filled with jumping. This task, while daunting, was approached with a positive attitude and energy, just as Kenzie would have done.
From 4:00-9:00, the BBCC was open to the general public. The event was like a big family
reunion as friends reconnected with one another and shared memories. Although everyone walked in with varying experience with jump rope, all were encouraged to jump for Kenzie. The Bulldogs were honored to be joined by some legends in the jump rope world like the president of the National Double Dutch League (NDDL), Lauren Walker, and the Jazzy Jumpers from Brooklyn, New York. The last jump rope competition that Kenzie attended was the Double Dutch Holiday Classic at the Apollo Theater in New York hosted by the NDDL. In the spirit of collaboration, the Jazzy Jumpers shared a drill with the Bulldogs to help jumpers learn how to enter and exit the ropes quickly. This was an instant hit with the Bulldog team members and their families, Kenzie’s family and friends, and the alumni jumpers. Many young jumpers especially enjoyed seeing their parents practice the drill.
Once it was dark outside, everyone received a balloon with a colored light inside and congregated on the outdoor sport court. After some remarks from an alumni parent, everyone released their balloon into the air and watched the lights twinkle and float above. It was a beautiful way to celebrate Kenzie’s birthday and provided a wonderful reminder of how we can keep Kenzie’s spirit alive by living by the values that she stood for.
Following the balloon release, everyone went back inside for a final session of group jumping.
Around 9:00, most jumpers left with their families, and the jumpers who were 13 years old and older stayed at the BBCC over night. These jumpers were responsible for covering the night shifts and were split into three groups based on age. In order to ensure that everyone got a chance to rest and participate, the groups alternated between sleeping and jumping. Despite the preliminary feelings of exhaustion, all jumpers pushed through and contributed to the collective effort to keep jumping in the Bounce Booth.
After breakfast, the jumpers who had slept over at the BBCC packed up their stuff and headed to East Chapel Hill High School where they met the younger jumpers and their families. In the final hours of the Jump-A-Thon, co-captains Anna, Kenneth, and Rebecca led the team through sessions focusing on the various elements of jump rope. During this time, the high school and college jumpers focused on helping their younger teammates develop skills. Before everyone jumped together to conclude the Jump-A-Thon, Kenzie’s mom spoke to all in attendance. She mentioned how aside from enjoying competition and shows, Kenzie’s true love was learning and teaching at workshops.
This Jump-A-Thon was a great testimony to Kenzie’s legacy because this event highlighted the learning process. In the Bulldog program, you grow up looking to your leaders for guidance and mentorship and eventually, it’s your turn to do the same for the next generation. From hearing how much alumni and current jumpers respect Kenzie, it is apparent that she both was a receptive learner and passionate teacher. We can all learn from the strong example set by Kenzie and will continue to celebrate her legacy through this apt annual event.