» By KIMBERLY WALLAC – kwallace17@my.apsu.edu

APSU students danced the night away while helping raise money for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. A student-led committee hosted the Dance Marathon 2011: Rave for the Kids in the Red Barn on Friday, Sept. 23.

The Red Barn was adorned in a blaze of colorful decorations for the dance marathon. Streamers of different colors were strung up across the ceiling while signs decorated the walls. The event committee held the dance marathon from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Along with dancing, there were plenty of activities for participants. The event offered free food, a hula-hoop contest and a dance-off. In addition, participants learned the Morale Dance.

The Morale Dance was taught throughout the entire dance marathon. The intention was for participants to perform the dance at the end of the night. The dance consisted of different dance moves put together to a mash-up of songs including Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” and Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x.”

The emotional part of the night were the testimonials given by the parents of children at the hospital. Kara Adams, mother to Kale Adams who has congenital heart defects, began to tear up while giving her testimonial. “You guys, you’re giving us the opportunity to keep going back to Vanderbilt,” Adams said.

Bayleigh Roche, who was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome (AS), has to be constantly reminded to chew and swallow by her mom April Roche. Her disorder delays her from instinctually performing such simple tasks. However, Bayleigh was very eager to greet all of the dancers with a heartwarming “Hi” and sang a little bit of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

Her greeting and song were considered a great accomplishment because it is rare for people with AS to speak at all. “From the bottom of mine and my family’s heart, we thank you,” Roche said.

Bayleigh watched with amusement as the dancers learned the Morale Dance. She even gave the dancers a round of applause. Roche has hopes one day Bayleigh, who is wheelchair bound, will be out on the dance floor learning the Moral Dance.

Dancers of all skill levels enjoyed the night and raised money for the Children’s Hospital. The dance marathon proved to be an early success. “We’ve already raised over $5,000,” said Victor Felts, director of Student Life and Leadership, at 7:30 p.m. that night.

Two festive dancers dressed up like they came straight out of an ’80s music video. They danced in leggings, leg warmers, neon clothing and headbands.

Freshmen Cydney Greenwood, who resembled Olivia Newton-John in the “Physical” music video, said, “I have a heart disease and I’m still dealing with it. So, if I can help in any way, even if it’s just dancing, I will.”

The families were very thankful for all who came out to the dance marathon.

For more information about the Dance Marathon, call the APSU Office of Student Life and Leadership at 221-7431 or email Aubrey Harris at aharris40@my.apsu.edu. TAS