Kicking up their heels for a cause
AWEC students dance for hours to help sick children, raise over $7,000
A pair of Annapolis West Education Students spearheaded a dance marathon and raised more than $7,000 for the IWK.
Gemma Tompkins and Grace Longmire, both in Grade 11 and student council co-presidents, began planning months ago and a few weeks ago the lights went down and the music went up in the gymnasium – and hundreds of students danced for hours.
It was the first annual AWEC Dance Marathon through the Children’s Miracle Network.
“We’ve seen a school in the city with one of our friends, they hosted a dance marathon through the Children’s Miracle Network and we saw how successful it was,” said Longmire. “They raised a lot of money for the IWK so we thought maybe we could try to bring something from the city back to a small town and see what we could pull off.”
The May 4 event included face painting, crafts, bouncy castle, a photobooth, a magician and Zumba with Wendy Abramson. The marathon ran from noon to 5:30 p.m. They printed their own Tshirts for the occasion and even drafted some adults to help out.
“We have the majority of the student body here, so around 300 students as well as community members -- and Good Beginnings Daycare Centre stopped by as well,” said Tompkins.
By late afternoon, the gym was still packed with kids, coloured lights and music as the marathon kept going. Balloons and streamers were everywhere and decorations of all sorts hung from walls and ceilings inside and outside the gym. Dancers had to go through a balloon archway to enter the gym. The words ‘For the Kids’ were painted on a banner that hung from the ceiling.
“It’s a really exciting event, especially since it’s the first time we’ve ever hosted one of these – the loud music and all the little kids coming and enjoying the event,” said Longmire.
It took a lot of work to prepare the school.
“We were here until 10 o’clock last night,” said Tompkins. “From 3:30 to 10 o’clock, we were decorating, finishing up, doing the final touches.”
It’s been months in the making. “I contacted the Children’s Miracle Network page for the Dance Marathon and asked if it would be possible to bring one down here,” said Tompkins.
The organization let her and Longmire know what to do, and how to do it.
“So basically, what happens is once you schedule a dance marathon, we have a page on their website for our specific event, and that’s where people can register online for the $10 admission fee, and as well, a lot of students don’t have access to a credit card to register online, so we started to sell tickets every lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
They also raised money through donations, theme days, bakes sales, grocery bagging and a bottle drive. They made a presentation to Awesome Annapolis, part of a worldwide foundation that distributes monthly grants to projects and their creators, and were successful in securing $1,000.
Tompkins and Longmire said the staff at AWEC was very supportive of the dance marathon.
After all the money was tallied, they had raised $7282.95 for the IWK.
“It feels amazing to have been able to raise such a large amount of money in a small school,” said Tompkins, “and I can’t wait to see how much we raise next year!”
“We really want to thank all the community members and all the businesses that helped support us by either donating money or donating their services for the event,” said Longmire. “I think without that this wouldn’t have the same atmosphere -- if we didn’t have the bouncy castle, the photo booth, Zumba …”
When it was all over, the AWEC students proved that young people can do anything.
“We really wanted to give back to the community, and we figured what better way to give back than by giving back to the kids,” said Tompkins.
Vickiann Gregory is glad they did give back. She’s another Grade 11 student and was happy to get the last Dance Marathon T-shirt. She has a little brother who spends time at the IWK. For her, the event had special meaning.
Gemma Tompkins, left, and Grace Longmire organized a Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon to raise money for the IWK. The two Grade 11 students at Annapolis West Education Centre, with help from scores of other students and the community, were able to raise more than $7,000.