The South High Marathon Dance is growing so fast that the event might raise more than $1 million per year before long.
The student-run activity, held Friday and Saturday, generated $762,153.87 that will be used to benefit 43 recipients such as children with serious medical conditions and area non-profit groups.
The sum shattered the previous record, $621,000, which was set last year and brought total fund-raising to more than $5.5 million for the past 38 years.
“It was one of the most phenomenal things I’ve ever seen, just amazing,” said Rory Wilson of Saratoga Springs. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the recipients came up front. It was all about one thing, giving.”
Wilson, who owns’ D’Andrea’s Pizza, went to the dance to support a teenage friend, Trinity Hallenback, who personally collected more than $8,000 in donations and pledges. He also bought one of the most fun, unique auction items – a port-a-potty for a day. All proceeds go toward the total.
The top three student fund-raisers were Madison Capozucca ($15,679), Brooke Snyder ($13,160) and Connor Clark ($10,313).
“It’s amazing for one person to bring in that kind of money,” co-advisor Tom Myott said.
Approximately 75 percent, 754 of South Glens Falls High School’s 1,000 students, took part in the dance, with each one raising a minimum of $150 to participate.
The district’s four elementary schools and middle school raised $29,000 and $32,000, respectively.
“They all had events of their own,” Myott said. “We had a lot of new fundraising activities this year. Parents sold baskets and bracelets on social media to support their kids.”
Things actually got started last summer with a benefit golf tournament.
Area businesses contributed, too, such as a new Texas Roadhouse in Queensbury and D’Ella Honda, which donated $100 for every car sold in February.
Myott said the event generates an area-wide sense of community by helping people and groups outside South Glens Falls, from Queensbury and Hudson Falls to Saratoga Springs.
About 400 volunteers help stage the event. So many Marathon Dance alumni help out that a separate alumni group might be formed that would do fundraising on its own. Many South High alumni have gone on to successful careers. If this group gets organized, total fundraising could grow even faster.
A student committee reviewed more than 200 nominations as possible fundraising recipients. From these, the list was narrowed down to 43 individuals and organizations, a number that also keeps growing each year.
Next, the student committee will decide how much each recipient should get because some have more critical needs than others. Funds will start being distributed in the next few weeks. In cases involving medical treatment, funds go directly to the provider – not families – to ensure that money is used for its intended purpose, Myott said.
“We have to have some accountability,” he said.
Crowds have become so big that this year, for the first time, spectators could only attend via shuttle buses that made pickups at designated parking sites near the school.
The gym was filled to capacity when students stopped dancing at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by the live auction.
At select times, some elementary and middle school students were invited to spend an hour dancing, too.
“That way they get a taste of it,” Myott said. “By the time they get to high school they can’t wait.”