When students at New York’s South Glens Falls High School annually reach their 28th straight hour of dancing for charity, you’d think they’d be utterly exhausted. But, in fact, the feeling is quite the opposite. “The energy, surprisingly, is electric,” says Rob Chadwick, co-owner of decorator ARCA Ink and a father of South High students.
Each year, the South High Marathon Dance actually builds to a crescendo of anticipation in its final hour. Hosts announce how much money was raised, what students raised the most and who won the event’s multiple raffles.The nearly 1,000 students who dance all day and night create one final flourish with the Strut Your Stuff performance as their families cheer them on in the school’s packed gym.
Participants dance for charity at the most recent South High Marathon, which has raised over $4.8 million for a variety of causes since its inception in 1978.
With so much action, photos and videos of the dance marathon routinely flood social media.Two things are apparent: the students have a blast and they look good doing it. That’s because ARCA Ink prints multiple logoed garments for families, marathon production crew members, alumni, students and other guests.
At a recent marathon, the Queensbury, NY-based screen printer and embroiderer even provided a fundraiser design that helped raise over $7,000 through sales of hoodies as well as short- and long-sleeve tees. The backs of the shirts featured the name of every person that benefited from the money raised through the dance. “The dance and these shirts have helped with the lives of so many people,” says Chadwick, who is hoping that ARCA Ink can raise over $10,000 next year.
For 38 years, the marathon dance has uplifted those in need, from paying for medical expenses to sending terminally-ill patients on dream vacations.The event, which started with 50 student dancers in 1978, has growninto one of the largest charity events in all of upstate New York. It benefits countless people, including those like Nolan Jacox, a five-year-old with an autoimmune disease that causes him to produce too many white blood cells. As a result, he is allergic to most foods and must eat through a feeding tube.
“The dance and these shirts have helped with the lives of so many people.”
Rob Chadwick, ARCA Ink
This past spring, students and the local Glens Falls community, raised $621,680.Over the past four decades, the marathon has raised $4.82 million – money that has been donated to more than 365 causes and individuals. Through a committee, the South High students themselves decide how the money that’s raised should be donated. And, for 2015, South High put together an online video showcasing people the marathon has helped, as well.
“The kids prepare for the dance throughout the year,” says Chadwick. “They even practice special dances in their gym classes.”