By Emma Shirlin
Dance Appalachian State will be hosting their 17th annual Dance Marathon on February 15th from 10 am to 1 am. The Marathon is a 15 hour dance party in which students dance to raise money for local organizations benefiting children in the High Country. To participate, students can register online here and will pledge to raise a minimum of $150 ($10 per hour of dancing) to support this year’s two non-profit organizations, Western Youth Network and Parent to Parent Family Support Network. Both organizations provide essential services to children and families here in our local community.
Western Youth Network works to eliminate Adverse Childhood Experiences by addressing the root causes of trauma and calling for trauma-informed policies. WYN currently manages five primary initiatives in hopes of building a trauma-free community: Mentoring, after school programs, summer camp, high school success and substance abuse prevention. In 2018 alone, WYN served over 300 youth in our community.
“We are so grateful for this awesome opportunity to collaborate on fundraising with students at Appalachian State. It is a chance for us to share with hundreds of students more about what WYN does in the community. This fundraising collaboration often brings us more than just a monetary outcome; we gain supporters through volunteers and interns who are compelled by WYN’s mission. WYN is working hard to transform the High Country community by nurturing and empowering our children so that they live healthy, engaged, and fulfilled lives.”
Parent to Parent is an organization that offers support and resources to parents of special needs children in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Wilkes, Ashe, Allegheny counties. The services offered include emotional support in times of transitions or diagnoses, support groups, workshops, service learning and internship opportunities, and liaison assistance.
Merlie Jackson of Wilkesboro, NC recalled time spent at the Dance Marathon event in previous years with her daughter Jessie, saying “My special needs daughter truly enjoys the time she spends with the App State Students. It is an excellent event and [the] money raised helps a lot of local families.”
“Our mission is to encourage Appalachian students to look beyond themselves and our campus community and advocate for the present and future wellbeing of kids and families in the High Country of Western Carolina,” according to Justin Marks, member of the Dance Marathon committee. He described his experience as last year’s Dance Marathon emcee as a “magical experience,” reflecting on how it was “wonderful to see so many compassionate and passionate students volunteering 15 hours of their time to help our community.” Overall, he found the event to be “rewarding, engaging, exciting, and absolutely unforgettable!”
The Dance Marathon committee encourages non-students to attend the event and to join students in their 15 hours of dancing in order to offer moral support. They assure guests that they can stay for any amount of time that they would like, but expressed a need for more moral support dancers between 9am-12pm.