Students from around the county put aside all of their rivalries to raise money for local families Feb. 28. This was the sixth annual CHAMP dance marathon. CHAMP stands for Creating Hope And Making Progress.
This year, the organization raised money for 10 families in need. The goal was to raise $75,000 to give to the families, but by the end of the night, the organization raised over $83,000. Over 600 dancers were in attendance.
JV CHAMP captains Caden Rupert, Halee Smith, Grant Musser, Hayden Taylor, Katerina Coffman and Olivia Smith all worked hard months prior to the dance. H. Smith, Rupert, Musser, and Taylor were the returning veterans from CHAMP in past years, and this was their last year.
“I knew that I had to step it up in my senior year to fill the seniors’ shoes from last year; I’m going to miss it in the years to come, but I’m really excited for us because we surpassed our goal and I know they will do well in the future,” Smith reflected.
Kelly Johnson and Bobbi Manyara are both teachers at Juniata Valley in the elementary. They are the JV advisers for JVHS CHAMP captains and activities.
“This is something so special to us, because we can let the students run it for the most part. We let them do it, because they want to do it, and they own this. This isn’t something that we have to push; they want this,” commented Johnson.
As students and captains raise money closer to the actual dance, the anticipation grows.
“It becomes real to them why they’re doing this and what they’re doing it for. As they grow up and become adults, this will be one of the most valuable life lessons that they’ll possess,” continued Johnson. “Students are excited to raise money for a good cause and see the amazing outcome that they’ve created.”
The students involved are proving that everyone can make a difference and that there isn’t a single reason why everyone shouldn’t make a difference.
“Students learn how important it is to put someone ahead of themselves, and the captains have to learn to get creative and keep everything moving,” Manyara explained.
Donors and members of the community are just as important to the program as the dancers, captains and chaperones. Local organization 100+ Women Who Care of Huntingdon was a major donor for JV this year.
To be a member of 100+ organization each member or group has to pay $100 at each of the four meetings in a year. Each individual member has a vote and each group has a single vote. After everyone votes, the majority rules and each member, or party, writes a check to the winning organization.
The 100+ Women Who Care of Huntingdon donated a total of 15 checks totaling $1,600. CHAMP Captains and the advisers were ecstatic with the donation. “We’re very thankful that this organization donated the amount of money that they did. Every donation counts big or small, it’s an amazing contribution to making CHAMP a success,” H. Smith concluded.
Without the community’s support, CHAMP wouldn’t be possible. Many stores donated Gatorade, pizza and other snacks to keep the dancers fueled for the night.
“We really appreciated the food that everyone donated, the gatorade was the best part because we needed a little pick-me-up to keep on dancing,” Musser explained.
A new activity that most schools carried out the week of CHAMP was the pie contest. Students had the opportunity to bid on which captain took a pie to the face. JVHS students voted for their favorite captains and Rupert was pied in the face by his business teacher, Erica Mowrer. “It was all in good fun, and the captains were really good sports about it, especially because it was going to such a good cause,” Mowrer commented.
There was an unexpected twist after Rupert was pied. An anonymous donation was given so that every CHAMP captain could be pied in the face. Coffman was pied by Peggy Vlasak, the Smith sisters were pied by both their parents, Musser was pied by Shane Thomas and Taylor was pied by Jennifer Beach.
“It was fun to get to pie Grant because they raised money, we still enjoyed it and we’ll laugh about it in the future,” commented Thomas.
As the students headed to CHAMP, they were excited to have a fun-filled night making memories, dancing and raising money to give to those who needed it most in their community. During CHAMP, there was the traditional lip sync battle which ended with JVHS junior Hannah Ormsby winning overall. She was the first ever CHAMP dancer to complete a hard rock song.
“All of the performances were great, but Hannah knew how to get the crowd involved and excited,” Rupert commented.
The students competed in an enthusiastic game of ships and sailors, and H. Smith made it to the final rounds. Later on, the students made their way to the auditorium for the traditional ceremony where the captains, advisers and families were introduced.
The captains always introduce the families and escort them to the stage. It’s very personal and heartfelt hearing all of the stories.
“It’s probably one of my favorite parts of champ every year; reminding the dancers what we’re really there for and who we’re doing it for,” Rupert reflected.
Elizabeth Brumbaugh is a student at JVHS and was one of the people who CHAMP supported this year. Brumbaugh received a standing ovation from her friend group during the ceremony.
“It’s been a really upsetting year not having her at school every day, but I was very proud and glad that I was the one that was able to walk her across the stage during the ceremony,” O. Smith recalled.
“It’s the most exciting part about CHAMP, because the families are introduced and you can see all the students recognize how truly amazing the dance is, and who they are helping,” commented Johnson on the family ceremony. Some of the students shed tears as families walked across the stage, because of their inspiring, heart-wrenching stories.
The night closed out with a grand total of $83,582.90, though that number has been increasing. The organization is still taking donations for the next few weeks and then they will be distributed to the families. “CHAMP continues to amaze me every year; it’s amazing that we can put aside our rivalries and raise almost $10,000 more than our goal. I can’t wait to see it continue to grow,” Musser concluded.