On Your Mark: Using Passion to Make a Difference
The runners are at the starting line, hearts racing, palms sweating, ready to compete in the race of their lives. They are at the ready, taking in all the sights and sounds, people cheering, their families nearby. They take their mark, adjust their tutus…and they are off!
Our Y Dance In Motion Competition team recently participated in a Tutu Fun Run in partnership with Dancers Against Cancer (DAC), a fun 1 mile course where our dancers raised funds for the impactful organization. DAC was founded in 2012 in a response to the loss of a young dancer from cancer. Since then, it has become a beacon of hope in the dance community, uniting dancers all over the nation. In 2014, Dancers Against Cancer became an official 501(c) 3 to continue to provide financial assistance to dance educators, dancers and family members impacted by cancer. To date, DAC has proudly raised over 2 MILLION dollars in donations that directly benefit those in need and one of the ways they raise these funds is by dancers like ours who find avenues of fun ways to collect donations and create excitement around the organization.
This project has largely supported and created by Y Dance instructor Kaleigh Mulligan, who was proud to share that we raised over $3200 during this event for DAC! Kaleigh has been dancing with the Y for over 21 years ago when the program was first created. As a young dancer she was so engaged by the sport and instructors that she eventually became an Assistant Instructor, which led to her employment as an instructor and an integral part of the program. She also serves as the Competition and Performance Team Coordinator, a role she is excited to be a part of. “One of my most profound experiences on a personal and professional level has been my time as a dance instructor for the Y. I believe we have created an encouraging environment for dancers to express themselves and build confidence. We emphasize the importance of friendship, kindness, and mental health as a dancer. I can’t wait to see how our program grows in the future” Kaleigh expressed.
The partnership between Y Dance and DAC evolved from an interest in DAC’s mission, dance staff came to learn of DAC from the Award Donation Program at one of the dance competitions the team attends. If a team enrolls in this program, the dance competition will donate the net proceeds of what they would’ve spent on General Award trophies to Dancers Against Cancer. Kaleigh shared “As a team, we are always looking for ways to give back to the community and advocate for causes within the dance community. We knew that we wanted to start hosting a Tutu Fun Run annually and donate the proceeds of this to the dance community. Having DAC as our first organization to benefit from this event was something we knew we wanted to do immediately. DAC has been one of the most prevalent examples of passion and generosity in the dance community.”
In order for dancers and their families to participate in the event, they had to pledge to raise at least $50. The goal as a team was to become a Hope Studio which meant they had to pledge to raise $1,000, however they surpassed that goal within a week of the fundraiser going public! The day of the event, dancers and their families were encouraged to dress up in their best tutu, and was hosted at Camp Sargent, a perfect location to come together as a team and as a community. Other fun activities were held at the event such as a Trail Mix Bar, Tinsel Hair Station, Card Making Station (all of the cards made will be brought to a local hospital) and line dancing! “We had so much fun raising awareness around this important cause at our Tutu Fun Run and look forward to partnering with other dance organizations for our future Tutu Fun Runs” Kaleigh said.
In the future, the team hopes to partner with Exhale, which is a local dance organization that is near and dear to the team and focuses on the mental well-being of the dance community. They also look forward to partnering with Ballet & Books for the Winter Showcase December 9th at Court Street Theater. Ballet & Books is a nonprofit with the mission to reduce the literacy gap through a hybrid teaching model of dance and reading. Y Dance has decided to host a book drive in conjunction with the Winter Showcase where all of the books collected will be donated to Ballet & Books to help support their curriculum.
Other community and program initiatives that are coming up include:
Break the Dress Code Food Drive: If dancers bring in a nonperishable item, they are allowed to break the dress code for their dance class! All items collected will be donated to the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, one of our community partners.
Love Your Body Week: This initiative by the National Honor Society for Dance Arts is a week dedicated to creating a body positive environment. Y Dance In Motion will be running various activities in dance classes that encourage body positivity and celebrate our differences.
Having been dancing with the Y since she was a little girl, Kaleigh is proud of the difference she is able to make through dance, and loves to nurture that passion in her students as well. The Y has made a huge impact in her life, and she’s so glad to be able to use dance as a way to give back to others!
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