Posted at: 03/02/2013 12:48 AM
By: Dan Levy
SOUTH GLENS FALLS - The students of South Glens Falls High School, more than 800 of them, pulled an all nighter Friday into Saturday. They weren't cramming for any exam, but they were learning, and they were learning something that's likely to stick with them the rest of their lives.
The overnight phenomenon that is the South High Marathon Dance has placed this tiny northern Saratoga County community on the national map. The annual event fills the South High gymnasium. It's an event in which more than 80% of the student body participates.
Since its inception in 1977, the marathon has raised more than $3 million for charity.
Tom Myott, a South High graduate, and current art teacher at the school says, for him, it's a privilege to be involved with the marathon.
"The amount of money raised is fantastic," Myott says, "but when you come down to it, you're helping community members and a lot of people don't have an opportunity like this to help in a big way."
What the marathon does is it gives people hope, people like Jim and Kate LaFay of Queensbury, one of the recipient families this year.
On March 1, 2011, Kate, then pregnant, says her doctor told her her baby would likely be stillborn and advised her to have an abortion. Today, little Alessandra is 19 months old and afflicted with Turner Syndrome, an illness only found in one out of 2,500 females.
Alessandra also has heart disease and respiratory problems. Doctors bills keep adding up and that causes financial and emotion stress for Kate and Jim. The help received from the Marathon Dance, Kate says, is like a Godsend.
"We had decided after she was born that March 1st would actually be Miracle Day," Kate says, "When we found out about this (receiving marathon money) it was really truly a miracle, there were so many emotions that went with it, it's hard to describe."
Amanda Johnston is a senior at South High, who has danced in four marathons, and is one of the student chair people this year.
"We're learning compassion and empathy," she says, "It's just an amazing thing."
The first year of the marathon, in 1977, dancers raised $1,500. This year organizers are hopefully optimistic they can raise $400,000.