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Photo by Gus Carayiannis
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Photo by Gus Carayiannis
It’s the fall of 2006. Deep Run High School teacher and volleyball coach Kathleen Kern is riding the school bus with her varsity team when she tells the story of how her high school did a marathon dance to raise money for local charities. It had held the dance for years, she says, and still does. “It was the greatest thing I ever did,” Kern tells the team, and the team says: “We have to do that here!” So, Kern travels back home to South Glens Falls, New York, and calls her old art teacher, who started South High’s marathon dance.
“I said, ‘Mr. McCarthy, this is Kathleen Bushman. I think I’m going to start a marathon dance down here.’ He said, ‘Are you crazy?’ ”
Deep Run High’s 10th annual marathon dance starts March 18 and ends March 19. It’s called a marathon for a reason. It’s 27 hours of, yes, dancing (with a good rest period built in), but also games and guest speakers, including some of the beneficiaries of the money the students raise. Which, by the way, is not chump change. Over the last nine years, the dance has pulled in $1.5 million. Last year, the students raised $216,753.20 for 12 nonprofits, including Boys to Men Mentoring Network and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Central Virginia.
Students pay $20 to register for the dance and then must commit to raising $130 each to participate. “The point is not mom and dad writing a check,” Kern says. “It’s about getting our kids out into the community.”
Sophomore Brandon Farbstein, who is on the 50-student dance committee, says sorting through dozens of applications for funds from nonprofits and then having to choose only a dozen, “is just heart-tugging. If I was not part of this, I don’t think I would see the many challenges Richmond faces.”
Kern says the dance would not be seeing its 10th year were it not that every single year, alumni from her old high school drive down from New York state to help set it up.
“They get up at the crack of dawn and drive 10 hours to get here,” she says. One local family makes a huge pasta dinner for them that night; another hosts them over the next few nights. Parents and alumni help bring it all together, Kern says.
In recognition of 10 years of worthy tradition carried out in the spirit of giving, youthful exuberance and interstate cooperation, the organizers and students of Deep Run High School are our Richmonder(s) of the Month. —The Staff
More information: marathondance.org