Waynesboro dance-a-thon raises money to help children with cancer

April 02, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Sandi Cox, center, leads a session of Zumba at Waynesboro Area Senior High School Saturday during a dance-a-thon to raise money for The Four Diamonds Fund, which helps children treated at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Jocelyn Davis certainly had a reason to feel sorry for herself after being diagnosed with skin cancer at age 13 and again at 16.

But her parents refused to let the Waynesboro Area Senior High School senior wallow in self-pity. Davis said they reminded her that other teens had it far worse that she did.

“I had good insurance that covered my care, so my family didn’t have to worry about taking care of me and paying the bills like other families do,” Davis said.

On Saturday, Davis and more than 100 other WASHS students put on their dancing shoes and participated in a seven hour dance-a-thon hoping to raise $5,000 for The Four Diamonds Fund in honor of their classmate Courtney Sprenkle.

Sprenkle, a senior at Waynesboro Area Senior High, is undergoing chemotherapy at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital for leukemia following a Christmastime diagnosis. All the dance participants wore T-shirts of orange — Sprenkle’s favorite color — in her honor.

The Four Diamonds Fund assists children treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital by offsetting the cost of treatment that insurance does not cover, as well as expenses that might disrupt the welfare of the child, such as car repairs, rent or household utilities.

“I turned my 18th birthday party into a fundraiser dance for The Four Diamonds,” said Davis, sporting a rubber bracelet with “Prayers for Courtney” written on it. “Ever since my episode, I’ve had it in my heart that I wanted to help the kids who had it worse that I did. So, that’s why I’m here.”

WASHS senior Derek Null organized the event.

“There have been many students and teachers touched by cancer, and this is our way of doing something,” he said.

The school’s first dance-a-thon, organized by the WASHS Indians and Maidens School Spirit Club, was held in the high school cafeteria from 3 to 10 p.m.

The WASHS dance-a-thon is one of 62 minithons or spinoffs across the state mimicking Penn State University’s 46-hour dance-a-thon held in February to benefit The Four Diamonds Fund.

In addition to dancing, participants worked up a sweat playing dodge ball, basketball, floor hockey and participating in other fun activities. The only requirement for the event was that the participants stay on their feet for the entire seven hours.

For Samantha Cook, spending her Saturday in the high school was a small price to pay for helping raise funds for a good cause.

“It not only helps fund the organization, but it informs kids that this can actually happen to little kids and young people,” said the 15-year-old WASHS freshman. “I wanted to help support families of children with cancer. This foundation is important because it helps families stay on their feet and take some of the worry off of them.”

Ethan Barnhart couldn’t participate in the outdoor obstacle course.

The 16-year-old WASHS sophomore isn’t cancer-free yet, but he’s on the road to recovery after 14 cycles of chemotherapy and 31 days of radiation to eradicate his Ewing’s sarcoma.

The Four Diamonds Fund helped his family when insurance didn’t cover all his medical expenses.

“It’s good to get the awareness out to people so they know that this does happen to people my age. People need to realize that cancer can happen to kids too,” Barnhart said.

With several WASHS students diagnosed with cancer, dance-a-thon adviser Emily Dickey said the event hit close to home.

“We have had students who have cancer and you feel so helpless,” Dickey said. “You have no idea how to help and so many kids want to help. This is a way that they can help. This event is going to change lives in so many different ways.”

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