For 20 years, Fayetteville-Manlius High School students have put on their dancing shoes in support of a local children's charity, Camp Good Days and Special Times. This year is no different but for one exception: Overall donations have surpassed the $1 million mark.
"We are overwhelmed by the drive, passion and generosity of heart shown by the students, faculty and F-M community in support of the mission of Camp Good Days!" said Renee DeVesty, the not-for-profit's Central New York outreach director. "These teens go non-stop before, during and after to ensure this event is successful. You can see the commitment in their actions, the dedication in fundraising year after year and the love in their eyes to serve these children."
Camp Good Days and Special Times is a residential camp facility that provides various programs - free of charge - for children, adults and families affected by cancer, death and other hardships. Since its founding in 1979, the camp has served more than 42,000 kids from 22 states and 25 foreign countries. Typically, it costs about $600 to send a child to summer camp for one week; however, no parent or guardian has ever had to pay that fee.
Dance Marathon is the single largest fundraising event for Camp Good Days, and accounts for approximately 10 percent of all contributions. In May, DeVesty said the organization is planning an F-M community-wide open house at its facility on Keuka Lake. The event is an opportunity for families who have not experienced camp to see it first-hand, plus "it will be our way of recognizing the 20 years of consistent effort by the F-M staff, students and community," she said.
This year, F-M's Dance Marathon will be held from noon to midnight Saturday March 5. Students, who have been working since September to raise money, are required to raise an initial donation of $50, but it's not uncommon for students to raise more than $1,000.