Students Make a Difference through Annual Dance Marathon
Ashley Schreyer

“Anything can make a difference, no matter how big or small.”

It’s a lesson Allie Roecker ’23 has learned helping to organize the annual Dance Marathon at Blair Academy this Saturday, and it is something she will take with her long after leaving the hilltop.

“It’s important to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network—even if it’s just a dollar—because proceeds go directly to the children’s hospital, which has saved thousands of lives and helped provide treatments for children,” Allie said.

The dance marathon, and fundraisers like it, help children like Taryn, sister of Bryson ’19 and Kiara Garriques ’23, who was diagnosed at birth with periventricular leukomalacia, a form of cerebral palsy. After multiple surgeries, Taryn worked with therapists at the Children’s Specialized Hospital to address her difficulties with day-to-day activities like sitting, walking and standing. With their help and Taryn’s strength and tenacity, she has been able to gain more of her independence as a determined teenager.

“Taryn would like to thank everyone who has been raising funds so far with an extra special shout-out to her sister, Kiara!” the siblings’ mom, Kathy Garriques, said. “We are so very proud of both Bryson and Kiara for their commitment to support an organization so very close to our hearts.”
 
Kiara, another organizer of the dance marathon, credits her sister’s ten years of involvement with Children’s Specialized—one of the 170 hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network—as the reason the event holds so much importance to her.

“My favorite thing about the Dance Marathon is how it brings the Blair community together to help those outside our Blair bubble,” she explained. “It means a lot to be able to help kids in the same way she was helped.”

Blair has hosted the night of fun and service since 2018, and last year students raised more than $5,000. Pre-event donations this year already exceed $4,000, and the club is hopeful bracelet and T-shirt sales at lunch this week will only help the total grow. Collectively, the philanthropic movement has raised $300 million since 1991, through the efforts of more than 400 campuses across the United States and Canada, just like Blair.

With all their efforts culminating in a single night of fun and activities, Allie admits that a lot of planning goes into a successful event. The club hits the ground running at the beginning of the school year, holding meetings to brainstorm fundraising ideas and the activities available to students scattered throughout the CECIC during the marathon. An early bake sale in October jump-started the fundraising goal with $500 from delicious treats and sweets alone. From there, each member created a fundraising link to send to family and friends. On Saturday, the club is prepared to spend hours in the CECIC setting up for the big night.

“It is definitely a lot of work, but overall it’s worth it, because the outcome is so rewarding,” Allie said. “My favorite part is at the end of the night when we reveal how much money we have raised. I love knowing that the community has worked together to donate thousands of dollars to help provide treatments for children, and hopefully change someone’s life for the better.”

As the end of the first semester draws near, the club hopes students turn to the event to support a worthy cause and dance off the stress that often comes with exams this time of year. Besides busting moves on the floor, students will also enjoy snapping festive pictures with Santa and his elves thanks to a few spirited 12th-grade volunteers in costume. A gingerbread decorating contest will bring out the competitive bakers and a rousing Just Dance battle or two will surely take place.

“On the day of the event we also have a card-writing station where everyone is encouraged to write holiday cards to the patients,” Allie added. “It shows that the goal is not only about raising money, but also to boost morale for the children and show them that we care.”

To track the fundraising progress, visit the Blair Dance Marathon website. Click play below to watch a video sharing Taryn’s story that was shown at School meeting.


 

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