Friday, 14 March 2014 09:12

$583,015: SGF Dance Fundraiser Crushes Record

By Brian Cremo | News

SOUTH GLENS FALLS — After last year’s South High Marathon Dance raised $489,000, which was $100,000 more than the year before, people again said, “How can this happen? You can’t keep breaking the totals.”

$583,015.14 later, the record was shattered again in 2014 and the dance marathon shocked, donated, entertained and made yet another mark on the lives of the South Glens Falls Community and those around it.

“It’s bizarre,” said co-adviser of the event and South High art teacher Thomas Myott. “Over the years the student body has increased in our school district. We have just under 1,000 students from grades nine through 12 in high school and we had 800 in the initial signup.”

Since the dance began in 1977, there have only been two times that fundraising totals have not surpassed the previous year. In its 37-year history, the event has raised more than $4.2 million for 318 beneficiaries.

This year, the money raised is going to 39 organizations and individual recipients.

But the dance marathon is not just about the money.

“The true spirit of the dance is about being able to give back to the community and people who are in need,” Myott said. “It’s not necessarily just financial. I’ve heard this from numerous recipients. Just knowing that you have not only the student body, but a community behind you is so empowering because most of these people are going through this alone. When you have cancer you tend to huddle around your immediate surroundings, but to be able to know that you have a backing of hundreds of kids in a community to support you is so, so empowering. We hear that from the recipients at the closing ceremony when recipients tell their story and there’s not a dry eye in the house.”

Along with co-advisers Daniel Albert and Jody Sheldon, Myott helps the overall direction of the event, but insists that it’s the students who make the magic happen, as well as a 40-member strictly volunteer core—a “giant machine” as he calls it.

Aside from the money raised at the dance, students alone raised over $350,000. Many went well over their $150 minimum as part of registration. The top four students raised over $10,000 each.

Senior Nick Hutchins raised $13,912.

The elementary schools have their own smaller dances to prepare the kids for the high school dance and, in addition to middle school families and students, raised more than $44,000 this year.

“It came from a variety of sources and we’re pleasantly surprised with the money that was coming in,” Myott said.

The husband of a 2013 recipient, who passed away from cancer last year, stopped by last weekend’s dance and presented a $2,000 check—money that was given to him and his wife from the dance marathon and not used.

“It’s something he didn’t have to do, but it’s stories like that which are so inspirational,” Myott said. “It generates such a good feeling and a positive spin on the dance’s mantra and what the mission is for.”

The marathon is also shown through a live broadcast on high definition cameras throughout the evening online at shmd.org, where people can also make donations. Eventually, organizers want to make a Webathon with a program online part of the event.

“It was only three years ago that we had this junky little camera duck taped to a broom handle and all these chords attached to it just so we could try broadcasting on the internet and it was a garbled, fuzzy mess,” Myott said.

Starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7 and wrapping up around 10:30 p.m. Saturday after a closing ceremony, the 24-plus hour dance marathon included choreographed group dances with more than 700 students in the gym.

One of the choreographed dance sessions included former student Matt Sorano, 20, who has Juvenile Parkinson’s Disease. 

One of this year’s recipients (of an iPad to help him with communication), Sorano was raised above the crowd with his illuminated wheelchair attached to an apparatus on a pulley system, as the lights were turned off for two to three minutes.

“It was just spectacular, just this moment of…the whole place gasped,” Myott said. “The music was choreographed with it. It was just a spectacular moment. It’s crazy stuff like that that the dance is known for. If people have an idea, as long as it’s safe and nothing too crazy, we’re like, ‘Go ahead and try it.’”

With the event anticipated to continue growing, Myott said he is often asked when the marathon will have to be moved to a bigger location. For him, the gym is too special. Accommodations will continue to be made for the event to always stay in its home location, he said.

Another successful year for a good cause, filled with the heartwarming stories of recipients and more than enough good vibes to pack a gym, and students are already thinking of ways to make the 38th Annual Marathon Dance even better next year.

“You remember tonight and know what you have done,” South Glens Falls High School Principal Carla Biviano said, during the event. “You have created a lasting contribution towards a better world.”

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