Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - November 18, 2011

Dance, dance, dance

Marathon raises funds to buy gifts for children

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Jazz, hip-hop, Bollywood. The action was nonstop at Jazz 'n' Taps Dance Studio on a recent weekend as students danced, danced, danced their way to more than $13,000.

The 24-hour marathon began at noon Saturday, Oct. 29, at the studio on Quarry Lane. It's a fundraiser for Project Roadrunner, which helps with the needs at Marylin Avenue Elementary School in Livermore. The dance money is used to buy Christmas presents for its families.

"Because we have ages 8-17, we put them in six different teams and there were always people from each team dancing," explained Jazz 'n' Taps owner Sherri Sweetnam. "It's a huge bonding experience for the kids."

"There is time for younger ones to sleep a little bit, but the most anyone gets is a few hours. The older girls dance all through the night," she said. "We made it different and special by offering African, jazz, Bollywood, Tahitian, hip-hop, musical theater -- and we had a choreography contest."

"The team parents and Jazz 'n' Taps instructors volunteered time, food and supplies to keep the dancers going," she added.

"It was a huge success," said team director Jennifer Buros, who added that she is proud of the dancers and thankful to the parents and instructors.

When not dancing, the 54 students worked on decorating T-shirts and other gift items. At the end of the marathon, they gave a dance performance of the numbers they'd learned during the 24 hours.

Don McAlister, who is in charge of Project Roadrunner, arrived at the end of the marathon for a presentation of the money raised and there was not a dry eye in the house, said Sweetnam.

"It always gets emotional," she said. "Of course by the time you're there for 24 hours everyone is very emotional anyway."

"I'm really proud of my kids," she added. "We do it every other year -- this was the third time -- and it's a pretty cool adventure."

The dancers raise enough money for bicycles and other substantial gifts for the families, she said, and the $13,000 should be enough for presents for two years for the Project Roadrunner families.

"They're going to do the gift giveaway on Dec. 17," Sweetnam said. "They invited my kids to help -- they're like little elves.

Donielle Machi, a second-grade teacher at Marylin Avenue School, said her niece Katie was a dancer and asked her to donate.

"I was brought to tears as I explained to Katie how much my students and their families appreciate the dancers for raising money for Project Roadrunner," Machi said. "It is truly a gift these dancers give to these families for the holiday season."

E-mail McAlister at for more information about Project Roadrunner.


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