OBX Dance Marathon: Fun for a Great Cause
Nine-and-a-half hours after the Riff Tides played the first notes of the First Annual G.E.M. Carpe DM Dance Marathon on Saturday, two dancers were still on the floor.
Brittany Slaughter from Team Black Pelican and Kim Dorsey from Team Goombays made it to the end.
What does it feel like to dance for the better part of nine and a half hours? “Oh, I’m going to be sore tomorrow,” Dorsey commented. “I’m going to put my feet up and I’m not going to move.”
Held at Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in Nags Head, Carpe DM was a fundraiser for G.E.M. (Gentle Expert Memorycare) Adult Day Services.
G.E.M. provides support services for people living with dementia and their caregivers and the money raised at the Dance Marathon will go a long way to supporting and expanding the organization’s programs according to Executive Director Gail Sonnesso.
“It will pay for respite of three families,” she said. “And I do geriatric care management. We do ongoing is community memory screenings, which we do not charge for. I teach classes called Caring Effectively. It’s a 14 hour class for family caregivers, community friends and professional caregivers. It’s person centered care.”
There are other programs the funds will support and most G.E.M. services are either free or a nominal fee is charged.
One of the programs that G.E.M. growing and shows tremendous promise is the Harmony Cafe.
“It’s three things,” Sonnesso explains. “It’s monthly and it provides respite for the family. It increase the family’s awareness of the benefits of their loved ones being in a social environment. And we have different churches that co-host, so that it raises awareness in the community.”
The idea for a dance marathon was the brain child of board member Luanne Hege. Hege, who has organized a number of very successful fundraisers on the Outer Banks, tapped into her experiences working with nonprofits in the Washington, DC area.
“I turned many of these up in DC for Easter Seals,” she said. “I moved here 26 years ago and I’ve never heard of one here. The planning is low stress. It’s not labor intensive. That’s two major reasons why I knew it would work.”
And it did work. Final numbers are not in yet, but Sonnesso was confident the event raised well over $10,000.
The Marathon was an example of community spirit on the Outer Banks. Music was provided all day by the Riff Tides, Doug Leal, DJ Fixture and DJ Fresh. Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern put out a great spread for the contestants.
The event also helped to raise awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. To give dancers an occasional break, hula hoop dancers from Bliss Fit were on hand and performer Giovanna Quattrone commented on what she had seen. “[Alzheimer’s is] a very sad disease,” she said.”But this a really cool event, and I think it raised a lot of money to help.”
Gallop Funeral Services, The Outer Banks Real Estate Company, Outer Banks Eye Care, Kelly’s Restaurant, Jane Webster, Island Xpertees, The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, Dare County Arts Council, Jolly Roger Restaurant, RAVRA Entertainment, Ronald DeVaus, PC Attorney at Law, Tanger Outlets, Coastal Impressions, MAX Radio, Bonzer Shack, Goombays Grille & Raw Bar and the Black Pelican.