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Deep Run teacher’s dance marathon offers students ‘life-changing’ experience

Posted at 4:43 PM, Mar 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-20 07:33:43-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- There is a fever affecting hundreds of students at one school in Henrico County, but these boys and girls aren't in any danger of becoming sick. The fever that is spreading across Deep Run High School is called dance fever and it is highly contagious.

“It is so much fun. It is ridiculous,” says junior Abby Bittner. “It is the most fun I’ve ever had.”

At Deep Run in the county’s West End, cramming for a test has never been so much fun. But grades don’t matter on this exam.

“It is like preparing for the Super Bowl. We come together as a big team and it is just incredible,” says senior Michael Falat.

DRMD Human Tunnel

Students performance will have a far greater impact outside school. With only hours to go, teens prepare for something unlike anything else in Virginia where nearly 800 students turn out for a test in endurance.

“A lot of crazy jumping around. I jump around a lot. Too much energy. I just can’t hold it in,” says Bittner. “My stomach is in knots. I can’t wait for it.”

Starting Friday afternoon and stretching into Saturday night, bleary-eyed students will dance the night away with a twist. Teens raise money for a dozen different charities every year.

“We have the Deep Run Marathon Dance,” says Alexa Circeo. “This dance is life-changing. This dance opens my eyes to people that are less fortunate than I am.”

“It really is the most amazing feeling ever,” says Katie Melia. “It is absolutely my favorite high school memory.”

DRMD 2007 Strut your stuff

The footloose fundraiser is the brainchild of health teacher, Kathleen Kern. The marathon dance event was popular with her high school in South Glens Falls, New York.

“It is chaos, but it is good chaos,” says teacher Kathleen Kern. “It was one of the best experiences I ever had as a high school student.”

Kathleen promised to deliver the dance to Deep Run for one year.

“Nine years later I’m still doing it,” Kathleen says laughing.

DRMD 2007 Balloon drop

Since 2007, the electrifying event has raised close to one and half million dollars for those in need and charities across the Richmond region.

“We went from the ground to skyrocketed and I wasn’t anticipating it,” says Kern.

The marathon will always hold a special place in Ms. Kern’s heart.

“I actually met my husband at the first marathon dance. No, he wasn’t a student. He was a teacher,” says Kern.

Students feed off of Kathleen’s energy and dedication.

DRMD 2008

“She keeps us going. Without her we’d be a wreck for sure,” says senior Katie Melia.

As they put the final touches on their night to remember teens are keeping Ms. Kern’s lesson in mind: That giving back is much more important than rhythm on the dance floor of life.

“I think, ‘Ok, this is why I was put on this earth. This is why. Because I can see the difference. I can feel the difference in my students every day.”

Kathleen will get some help from New York when a group of friends she graduated with will be in Richmond to help manage the Marathon Dance at Deep Run High School.

The dancing will commence a little after 5:30pm Friday night and run through 7:30 Saturday night.

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