LEWISTOWN After nine musical competitions, seven DJs, nine gift raffles, three dance lessons, one guest speaker and 24 hours of dancing, the Dance Your Heart Out marathon, sponsored by the Friends of Lewistown Hospital, raised more than $4,000 for the congestive heart failure department.
"The money will go toward educational materials and necessary resources for people living with heart failure," said Julie Maidens, a member of the dance committee and nurse navigator for the CHF department. "I'd like to thank the dance committee for donating their time and all the dancers who came out and dedicated 24 hours to the cause."
The marathon began at 10 a.m. on Saturday and the teams were full of energy, ready to dance their socks off for a great cause. Dancing for 24 hours is hard, but it's important for participants to remember why they volunteered in the first place, said Kris Fisher, a member of team Vicious and Delicious.
Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Cameron Hassinger, left, of Reedsville, Katie Hassinger, of Milroy, and Darcie Dunmire, of McVeytown move to the ‘Macarena’ at the Dance Your Heart Out marathon Saturday at Rec Park Community Center in Lewistown. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Lewistown Hospital and benefits the congestive heart failure program.
"I wanted to participate in the marathon because it's such a good cause," Fisher said. "I plan on going into the medical field in the future and I think it's important to help others when you can."
Kaitlyn Snyder, a member of the Potter Jays team, danced in the marathon because she lost a member of her family to congestive heart failure. Snyder's team, a group of friends from Mifflin County Middle School, raised roughly $500 for the cause.
However, by 8 p.m., 10 hours into the marathon, the 80 participating dancers had lost some of that fresh energy. Rather than busting a move, most teams could be found in small circles on the dance floor, bobbing their heads to the beat.
"We can't really dance anyway," said Brand Brackbill, a member of the Dance Time team. "We mostly just move, hope no one is watching and stay in a circle."
How did the team plan to make it for 14 more hours? By drinking lots of caffeine, taking secret naps and sacrificing unlucky team members to the dance floor for the good of the group, said Brad Strawser, another member of Dance Time.
Loren Horton, a member of And The Beat Goes On team, took a break at the team table while waiting for the next themed dance hour.
"So far our team seems to be doing pretty well," Horton said. "We loved the swing dance hour and now I'm looking forward to learning some Zumba. Hopefully, that will give us some energy."
Horton was also motivated by guest speaker Pastor John Walters, from Bible Baptist Church, who discussed his experience with congestive heart failure. Walters talked about how his father died from a massive heart attack and how he and his family have worked to eliminate heart failure through fundraising for the American Heart Association.
"It was really moving to hear his story and realize just how important the cause is," Horton said. "It reminded me why I was here and got me back on the dance floor."
By the early hours of Sunday morning, only the truly dedicated or completely crazy remained to represent their teams, some having dwindled largely in numbers.
"I crawled under one of the tables to take a short nap so I could get through the rest of the morning," said Alyssa Hanford, a member of the Potter Jays. "But I'm ready to finish the dance marathon strong. I would definitely do it again next year."
The final marathon hour was concluded with a rendition of the Dance Marathon theme song, in which every remaining dancer participated. Team Dance Time then received an award for being the team that raised the most money-more than $1,300 for the CHF department.
"I really think this event was such a success," Maidens said. "The kids had a great time and all the planned activities went really well. I'm hoping that next year will be even bigger and better."
The Dance Committee will start planning the next Dance Your Heart Out marathon almost immediately, Maidens said. That way, everything will be finalized earlier and teams will have more time to recruit members and fundraise, she said.