Deep Run Marathon Dance is back

Students at Deep Run High School in Henrico County take a break during preparations for the eighth annual dance marathon, which has raised more than $1.1 million since 2007.

A high school dance known for its fundraising power is back for its eighth year at Deep Run High School this weekend.

Almost 900 students — more than half of the school’s population — will rush the gymnasium Friday night to begin a 27-hour celebration of five months of raising money for 12 local organizations.

The Deep Run Marathon Dance has raised more than $1.1 million for 79 local organizations since its inception in 2007 and organizers expect to beat last year’s total of $243,855.

Students spend the night at the school dancing, dressing up for costume parties, participating in off-the-wall competitions and — for a brief two hours — sleeping.

“It brings the community together to make a change and it’s really fun with all your friends,” Deep Run junior and decoration coordinator Mariah Kenny said.

The décor theme will include various shapes that form optical illusions — similar to how people of various backgrounds can come together to create something unique, she said.

The 2014 donations will benefit 12 organizations: The ALS Association, Brain Injury Association of Virginia, Camp Kesem, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond, Full Circle Grief Center, Gray Haven, Henrico Education Foundation, Lamb’s Basket Food Pantry, Muscular Dystrophy Association, PACKids, Positive Vibe Foundation, and We Heart Harlie.

Each student attending the dance must raise at least $120 to participate, though most raise far more than the minimum. Last year, the student leadership team aimed to push the seven-year total past the $1 million mark and succeeded.

Brooke Langhorne, the dance’s senior committee head, spent her Tuesday afternoon with a laptop in hand, commandeering the 50-student leadership team and finalizing last-minute details.

She said getting to know the beneficiaries and what they do in the community has been the most rewarding part of the position, which often takes up 15 hours of her week. People connected to the local organizations are a staple at fundraising events throughout the year.

As a member of the student leadership, “you really know who you’re raising money for,” she said. “Since we’ve gotten to know them, they’re our friends now.”

Deep Run alumni and a crew hailing from the original Marathon Dance in South Glens Falls, N.Y. are also staples at the dance.

Deep Run special education teacher and organizer David Kern said they hope to make the event as ingrained in Henrico’s community as the upstate New York fundraiser.

“It’s just what this community does,” he said.

Donations can be made online at www.marathondance.org. Online streaming of the event, including the closing ceremony with organization representatives and fundraising totals announcement, also will be available.

lkebede@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6243 Twitter: @kebedefaith

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