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First ever dance-a-thon raises $5,200 for Children's Miracle Network

Date: 3/15/2010

March 15, 2010

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW - Members of the Interact Club at Longmeadow High School wanted to do something different to raise funds for a worthy cause. Many groups already host walks or runs the Interact Club got students moving in a different way.

The LHS Dance-a-Thon took place on March 5 and according to Interact Club president Derek Harmanli, the event was a rousing success.

"One of our club members contacted me about having a dance-a-thon and we took the idea and ran with it," Harmanli said. "We worked on this starting in December."

The event came together through the collaboration of three student organizations - Interact Club, Key Club and Peace Jam - but Harmanli said there was one big speed bump: "Not a lot of people go to school events at night, especially on a Friday night," he said. The dance-a-thon committee sweetened the deal by incorporating an intergalactic theme and food - some teachers even offered extra credit to students to attended - and those who danced received community service hours for as long as they danced.

"We had so many people at the door we had to turn some people away," Harmanli told Reminder Publications. "We had over 200 participants."

Tickets to the event were $15 each, and the Interact Club decided to donate the proceeds from the dance-a-thon to the Children's Miracle Network. Since Baystate Medical Center is part of that network, Harmanli said it made sense to donate the funds there.

"We're not only helping a national network, we're helping an organization in our backyard," he said.

The dance-a-thon itself raised $2,636. WMAS 94.7, when contacted by the Interact Club, matched their total so $5,272 was donated.

"I could not have done this without the help of WMAS and my dance-a-thon committee," Harmanli said. That committee included Sara Putnam, Nicole Nystrom, Flynn Vickowski, Gabby Henderson, Kate Cirillo, Brendan Prast and Jessica Feigen.

Harmanli said he'd like to see the dance-a-thon become an annual event for the Interact Club, which focuses on community service while "looking at the big picture," according to Harmanli.

The club's next fundraiser is "Longmeadow Idol," taking place April 14.

Proceeds from that event will be donated to American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti and Chile.