Dance Marathon Kicks Off With New Beneficiaries

By Hafsa Wahid

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Dance Marathon starts this year with two new beneficiaries: Special Gifts Theatre (SGT) and Niles Township Foundation for Excellence.

Special Gifts Theatre was founded by Susan B. Field in 2000. SGT is a program that allows children and teens with special needs to participate in theatre arts.

“Words can hardly express how we feel!  This is such an amazing opportunity for not only our students and mentors to work with other individual outside the program, but it further serves our mission of breaking down stereotypes related to disabilities within the community at large,” said Special Gifts Theatre’s director of operations Ann Fulmer.

In order to help the community, Dance Marathon will also be taking on another beneficiary: Niles Township Foundation for Excellence. The foundation’s goal is to enhance education by providing resources such as graphic calculators, AP exam fees, personal computers, tuition classes for ACT classes, and many more. 10% of Dance Marathon’s fund-raising will go to the Foundation’s assistance to students of District 219.

Community relations directorJim Szczepaniak said he was excited at the opportunity to work with Dance Marathon.

“We value the close working relationship the foundation has developed with Dance Marathon/School Chest and are glad to be working closely with the students to raise money that goes directly to help D219 students in financial need,” Szczepaniak said.

Students activities director Jessica Ogulnik said she was pleased with the selection of these beneficiaries.

“I think that Special Gifts Theater is an inspirational organization which would be a great fit for District 219.  We pride ourselves on having wonderful Special Education programs as well as a thriving CEC club and a new Special Olympics.  This would be a great opportunity for both our students and Special Gifts Theater,” Ogulnik said.

Dance Marathon chooses its beneficiaries through a long selection process. Students and staff can nominate a few charities. The executive board members narrow the list down and everyone votes on a charity.

Last year, Dance Marathon raised $85,603.86 for Refugee One.