By Sophie Howie
This year’s Floyd Central Dance Marathon is typically the wildest event of the school year, which is especially fitting this time around, because this year’s theme is Wild Wild West! After much preparation, the big event is now just a day away, and everyone involved is looking back at all the hard work that has been put in for the past few months. Executive Member Caitlynn Saltzgaber described her role in making the big event possible.
“I am the exec of the entertainment committee along with Tre Muntz. Basically what we do is get all of the fun stuff that is going to be there night of and plan it out. We make the entire schedule for night of and have it broken down so that there are specific things that everyone’s going to be doing so that nobody gets bored and everyone’s having a blast the whole night,” said Saltzgaber.
English teacher Matthew Townsend, one of the faculty sponsors, spoke about the commitment that the big event requires, and what all that time goes towards.
“We’ve been planning for about a year. It takes about nine months, nine to twelve months. We pick out the exec and the sponsors work on putting together an exec team, and then the exec team puts together the whole night, so it’s separated into different committees and they all work together to build about a good dance marathon,” said Townsend.
Psychology teacher Katrina Uhl, who also works as a FCDM faculty sponsor, explained the division of time spent in preparation.”
“We usually have our executive committee chosen before school ends. Then, our first planning session is usually some time over the summer, usually in July. Then we will start planning our first event in the summer because that’s a golf scramble that’s usually in September, so that planning has to start in the summer with just our executive members,” said Uhl. “Basically what it is is a year long fundraising attempt that culminates in this one day of Dance Marathon.”
Several events go into this step of the ongoing process, and one of the people working on the crucial part of fundraising, junior Gregory Jekel, said that ever since his first Dance Marathon, he has wanted to be a part of the cause.
“I’m a fundraising exec, so through the main events of the year, golf scramble and silent auction are the two that I run and organize,” said Jekel. “Those two fundraisers together raised about 8,000 dollars, so that as the main bulk of what we got from fundraising.”
Several committee members and teacher sponsors took part in making this event possible, and a few gave us a sneak peak of what to expect on Saturday. Saltzgaber discussed some of the activities students can participate in during the seven hours there.
“This year’s dance marathon is going to be wild- because it’s Wild Wild West! It’s going to be so much fun. Obviously we’re going to have the Riley stories, we’re going to have some Riley kids back, we’re going to have a doctor back. Then we’re going to have a rodeo-type thing, it’s going to be like an obstacle course, and line dancing for the Wild Wild West theme. There are going to be inflatables, laser tag, and we’re bringing back some of the classics like that,” said Saltzgaber. “There’s also so much food. I don’t think anybody understands how much food we actually get for night of.”
When students are not on a break where these activities take place, they come to main sessions where Riley stories are shared. One student who works on that committee, junior Madelyn Lopp, talked about what goes into finding those affected by the hospital.
“I am an exec member, and my job is to get families that went to Riley to come and talk to the student body during dance marathon. We reach out to the hospital first and they give us a list of names, and then we call the names on the list,” said Lopp.
Another important factor are the decorations which span from the gyms to the hallway, and even in the bathrooms. Junior Hannah Hagedorn is one of the members who gets every set up and looking good for the night of.
“My job is to get all the decorations ready for night of and make sure that everyone in my committee gets their decorations done. We get it donated from Ben Franklin’s or Home Depot, or we pay for it ourselves,” said Hagedorn.
At the end of the day, the real meaning of the event is to support the kids at Riley. Even though all students help with that one main cause, everyone has their own specific reason why they dance.
“My slogan is, ‘because it takes an army to win a war,’ and that’s true because we need so many people to help and honestly, the deeply rooted cause of why I dance is because no child should ever feel alone in anything they are going through,” said Saltzgaber.
A lot of committee members are inspired to join after experiencing what Dance Marathon is like and learning what it is all about. For Jekel, that is the entire reason why he became a member in the first place.
“I went to it freshman year and it was just wonderful to see that there is an organization working for something like Riley’s Hospital, so I just wanted to be a part of it,” said Jekel.
For Townsend, what truly stands out about FCDM is the service aspect that students get to experience firsthand and the relationships they build at the big event.
“This is one of the few opportunities where the students get to be selfless. There are so many activities and games and stuff that they do that are more all about themselves, but this is the one opportunity that they get to do something for someone else, and truly raise money and raise funds for someone else and just see a different perspective of not only the outside world, but also their own school,” he commented. “They’ll meet new friends, they’ll meet people that they would normally see or maybe not normally hang out with, but when they’re shooting laser tag against each other, it’s just fun, and they get to know each other in a different way. And then at the end of the night, there’s always so much unity.”
For anyone still on the fence about whether or not to attend, Saltzgaber gave a last thought to keep in mind before deciding to miss out on such a fun and life-changing day.
“Maybe you can’t donate a ton of money, and that’s totally okay if you can’t donate so much. There are people out there who can, but the reason why we still need those people who can’t donate a lot is because their presence at night of,” said Saltzgaber. “Their awareness that they are spreading for the kids reminds all of those children who maybe don’t get to experience everything that we get to, it lets those kids know that they are loved and they are represented and that they are not alone in anything that they will ever go through.”