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.

‘Feels amazing’

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.

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