Hopping up and down 700 times in a day may sound exhausting but it was well worth the effort for a group of pre-kindergarten children.

The 4- and 5-year-old students in Sue Ann Ross’ class at Messiah Lutheran Pre-K School in Lewiston participated in a Hop-a-Thon event on Wednesday, raising more than $1,000 for children through the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association.

“These kids are magnificent,” Ross said. “Seeing them do something like this really touches your heart.”

As part of the MDA Hop-a-Thon Program, Ross has been teaching the students disability awareness through books, a video and other free educational materials provided by the foundation. Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder that gradually weakens the body's muscles. A child who is diagnosed gradually loses the ability to do things like walk, sit upright, breathe easily and move their arms and hands. This increasing weakness can lead to other health problems.

All of the money raised Wednesday will be donated to MDA, a national voluntary health agency working to defeat muscular dystrophy and related diseases. Funds also support hundreds of MDA medical clinics; send thousands of children to MDA summer camp; and provide assistance with the purchase of equipment such as wheelchairs and leg braces.

The class of 20 pre-K students haven been calling up friends and relatives for donations over the past few weeks. Theresa Schuey said her 4-year-old son Mikey took the fundraising very seriously and even wanted to add some of his own money to help sick children.

“I was so proud of him,” Schuey said.

Roth, who teaches the class with Lisa Landers, said the initial goal was to hop 200 times during the day but because some of the donations were on a “per-hop” basis, the students kept going, eventually reaching 700.

“They did a wonderful job collecting money,” Roth said. “I had people who pledged call me and commend me on how the children explained the cause with such caring and compassion. The children were so excited to help out.”