Tonight Westfield High School will host its first dance-a-thon, a six hour event to raise money for the Family Reach Foundation. The dance-a-thon will start at 6 p.m. in cafeteria B at the high school and continue until midnight.
The event will feature WHS senior Bobby McKeon, also known as DJ 4B, as the DJ and students dancing till they drop to a variety of musical genres and slow and fast tunes. Food and break areas will be available for the student dancers during the course of the evening.
According to Bonnie Underwood, the advisor to the high school's Student Council, the idea to host an event like this at WHS is not new.
"The idea to do a dance-a-thon has been around (past student council members such as Hannah Rubin and Mark Cafiero talked about it last year), but Kate Brennan, this year's president, is the person who really made it happen," Underwood said.
The event will feature teams of five to eight students who must donate $50 to participate ahead of time—individuals without a team must donate $10. To aid in their fundraising, students receive pledge cards, which are handed out to anyone interested in donating to the event. This dance-a-thon differs from a traditional one, said Underwood, because in a traditional dance-a-thon, pledgers donate based upon hours danced by the participants. In this dance-a-thon, all money being donated by the teams must be presented beforehand.
Prizes will be awarded at the event to the teams and individuals who raised the most money, per capita; this means an individual dancer has the same opportunity to win a prize as a team of dancers. Prizes include New York Knicks tickets, a gift card to On the Side and gift baskets.
The Family Reach Foundation provides funds for families with children fighting cancer as well as families with adults suffering from cancer and other illnesses. "The common element" says the foundation's mission statement "is that children are involved and impacted, either directly as patients, or indirectly within the family."
Brennan said that WHS Student Council Treasurer Chris Salemme, who is also a board member of the New Jersey Association of Student Councils, selected the Family Reach Foundation as the charity all the high schools in New Jersey will be donating to this year. Salemme's role in the state group was to oversee donations to a charity from all member groups. Because of that, Brennan said the WHS student government wanted to raise a lot of money this year, prompting them to host new events such as the dance-a-thon.
As of Monday, according to Underwood, 30 teams have signed up, bringing in at least $1,500. All of the money, minus event expenses, will be given to the Family Reach Foundation. Underwood said the food and prizes for the evening have been donated to the high school.
"We are trying to create some more traditions here at WHS,like implementing Pride Week in the fall and this Dance-A-Thon," said Brennan. "It is our hope that in the future these events will expand to something huge, becoming traditions at WHS that the whole student body and faculty look forward to."
Editor's Note: Kate Brennan and Chris Salemme are interns for Westfield Patch. Mark Cafiero is a former intern for Westfield Patch.