by Jacob Novak
Huntingdon Area High School hosted CHAMPathon, a dance marathon fundraiser, on Feb. 27 to raise money for families who have children with cancer, domestic abuse awareness and Huntingdon County PRIDE.
CHAMP, or Creating Hope and Making Progress, was created by the non-profit organization, Planet LoveJoy. “We are a non-profit and we do anything for the greater good. We are all volunteer, no paid workers,” said Jeremy Crouse, the founder of Planet LoveJoy. Also associated with planning the event was Caring for Kids with Cancer and members of the Huntingdon County school districts.
“CHAMPathon is a 12-hour dance marathon between the four school districts, which is Huntingdon, Mount Union, Southern Huntingdon and Juniata Valley,” said Crouse. “Throughout the 12 hours, there are different activities, from dodgeball to a lip-sync contest to all different kinds of things.”
The money raised from the event is being distributed to three different places. “What they do is they essentially break it into thirds,” said student John Bufalini, president of Caring for Kids with Cancer. “So a third of it will go to families whose children have cancer, a third of it will go to the domestic abuse awareness organization in Huntingdon County and then the other third of it will go to Huntingdon County PRIDE.”
CHAMPathon has also attracted the attention of many throughout the community. “It essentially is Planet LoveJoy working within the high schools, and then it’s us and faculty members, teachers and student aides,” said Bufalini. “Then they like to bring in the families, some of the local politicians, speakers and stuff like that.”
The previous success of the event has inspired some new confidence for this year’s marathon. “Last year they didn’t really have a goal, so they raised $20,000. They came up with a goal this year of $40,000,” said Bufalini.
The money for CHAMPathon is raised through a few different methods. “The kids themselves have the opportunity where they can be on a team within the high school, so they get 10 of their high school peers and they set a goal that they have to raise,” said Bufalini. “Essentially, every kid who registers for CHAMP has to have $20 to be able to register, so each school gets as many kids as they can to register.”
The standard $20 is not a limit for the students. “It doesn’t mean that they have to pay out of their pocket, they can get someone from the community to sponsor them, and it doesn’t mean that they only have to raise $20,” said Bufalini. “We have people raise up to $100 (and) $200 for the event.”
In addition to this source of donations, local businesses can also help the cause. “They can sponsor us and they can give us money and we put their names on the banners, the DJ announces them, they’re on the Facebook and Twitter page where we give them a shout out,” said Matt Baer, who is a coach for Juniata College baseball, a teacher at Huntingdon Area High School and CHAMP advisor for the high school.
Baer has also been involved in the planning process of this year’s CHAMPathon. “I advise my students here at Huntingdon High School with doing different things, like going out and getting businesses to donate, getting students signed up,” said Baer. “Since it’s hosted at the high school, I have to coordinate the event from the logistics side of it, making sure the gym is available, setting up risers for the DJ and getting the food director, some janitors and cafeteria workers to work that evening.”
Caring for Kids with Cancer (CFKC) has also become fairly involved with the event. “We help with raising funds, so we donate money to it,” said Bufalini. “Then as we helped with the planning, one of the costs they were worried about, the principals and school boards, was security. Not to say that college students are professional security members, but we’re a free asset that they can use.”
The role of security and helping kids stay safe is a responsibility for CFKC. “We show up and essentially show up and work as staff, so we’re at various places throughout the high school and direct traffic in a sense because the dance happens in the gym and then they go to the cafeteria for food,” said Keller. “Our main role is to make sure no one’s wandering aimlessly through the high school or causing anything that they shouldn’t be causing.”
CFKC was brought into the mix because of Planet LoveJoy. “I created Caring for Kids with Cancer to try to help kids with cancer in any way, which was our main goal, still is today,” said Bufalini. “So when I was first contacted by Planet LoveJoy to help with CHAMP, that was reason, you know, they have kids, families who need our help, absolutely.”
Planet LoveJoy is a recently founded organization that is based in Mount Union. Their focus is on bringing the community together to help others. “We were founded in 2012 and we saw a need to revitalize our community in Mount Union and in our entire county,” said Crouse. “We saw a need with kids that had cancer and needed money, families that need help.”
Those who worked with Planet LoveJoy on the project reacted positively to the partnership. “It’s been fantastic, Jeremy is awesome and he is somebody who wants to do good for the county, good for people in general and his love for people is really something that I like because that is why I teach in general,” said Baer. “Even their name, spreading love and joy instead of hate; it has been awesome working with them.”
The collaboration between the groups is important to Planet LoveJoy as well. “Our idea is that everybody is part of making the world a better place, so we work with everyone. We won’t tell anybody no,” said Crouse. “No matter who you are, let’s try and work together to make the world a better place.”
The goal is that CHAMPathon will continue to grow as an event. “We want to continue to have this event every year,” said Baer. “We’ve seen a massive increase in student involvement and community involvement, and that is something that I think is only going to grow as the years progress.”
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 7 News