Dance-O-Rama: Where Cornell Finds All the Right Moves!
When Cornell parent, Beth Ellis-Dickson, took a part-time job at the Albany toy store 5 Little Monkeys six years ago, she didn’t imagine that her connections there would lead to her running one of Cornell’s most anticipated and lively PTA fundraisers of the year for the school — Dance-o-Rama! “I was working there with Stephanie Sala, who is the owner, and who is also a former Cornell parent,” says Beth. “She started the event in 2009 as a really fun thing where Cornell kids could come dance together to raise money for the PTA. When my son Colin, who’s now at AMS, began at Cornell in 2009, Stephanie asked me if I’d take over. I didn’t have to think about it too much. I’ve been dancing since I was six years old. I love all kinds of dance – modern, tap, jazz, hip hop, and I teach classes all over Albany. I’m also not the kind of person who likes to sit in meetings. So, I was pretty happy to take it on!”
Beth shadowed Stephanie for a year before taking over as the current coordinator in 2015, and then she really began to make the event her own. When Dance-o-Rama first started, “it was a great dance party with food and some prizes or raffles,” says Beth. And today? “It’s like a dance party on steroids! About 500 people come every year. Kids and parents dance in the main part of the gym. There are also things to eat and drink, a Bake Sale, and a free photo booth. And we have contests, raffles, a Prize Grid where you might win $100, and a Treasure Trove where you can buy lots of fun things that have been donated by Cornell families and Albany businesses! Every year, it gets bigger and more exciting.” In fact, Dance-o-Rama is so big now, it raises over $8,000 for Cornell each year, regularly making it one of the PTA’s most successful fundraisers.
Looking ahead, this year’s Dance-o-Rama seems fit to be no exception when it comes to fun. “There are going to be so many interesting things to do in addition to dancing your butt off,” says Beth. For example, kids can participate in one of four fun contests: Heads or Tails, Airplane Flying, a Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a Limbo contest, which is making its grand debut this year. Great prizes for the contest winners include a ChromeBook, a COZMO Robot, an iPod Touch, and an iPad Mini! There are also four beautiful quilts being raffled off: “One of our Cornell grandmothers, Darlene Hayes, made and donated the quilts to us this year,” says Beth, “and we’re so grateful. An event this big really can’t succeed without the help of so many Cornell families and Albany community members.”
Some of the many volunteers who deserve a big shout-out for making the 2017 Dance-o-Rama possible serve on the event’s Planning Committee. These include hard-working Cornell parents, Jackie Bittner (Assistant Chair), Tina Chew, Lacy Cline, Jamie Fagan, Aubrey Fowler, Melanie Mickelson, Karmina Newell, Steph Ramos, Cristi Solomon, Melany Swift, Andrea Venezia, and Danielle Widemann. Local donating businesses, such as Mr. Rooter and Daniel Winkler and Associate Real Estate Services, are sponsoring the Photo Booth and the new Limbo Contest. And as usual, our own Coach Joel is volunteering his time – “He’s emceeing for us again!” says Beth. “He has also offered to host an event called Water World with Coach Joel, a water play session that will take place at Cornell sometime before the end of this school year for a limited number of kids. People can buy tickets at Dance-o-Rama.”
This year’s event also sees one extra and out-of-state volunteer: Beth’s mother. “My mother lives in Arkansas, and she is actually a big volunteer there. She’s always been involved in leading events for community theatre and other organizations. She does so much, she’s even the Arkansas Volunteer of the Year for 2017! She taught me how to give back to my communities. So, I’m glad she’ll be at this year’s Dance-o-Rama to help out. She can see what a big influence she’s had on me!”
This year’s Dance-o-Rama will be held on Saturday, May 13th, between 5-8:30 pm at the Albany High School Gymnasium, and the Planning Committee is looking forward to a big turn-out. “We get excited to see that each year, more and more families and sponsors donate time, money and prizes to Dance-o-Rama, and we’ve worked really hard to make sure that there’s more pizazz than ever.”
If you’d like to donate prizes or baked goods for the event, please contact Beth Ellis-Dickson at: firstname.lastname@example.org The Committee requests that people donate Bake Sale items either on Friday, May 12th or prior to the event on Saturday, May 13th by contacting Melany Swift at: email@example.com
If you can’t donate prizes or baked goods, then make sure to come out and support the event by trying out your favorite dance steps. Everyone is waiting to see your best moves!