YLA plans Dance Marathon, raises funds for Alternatives

A group of high school juniors in this year’s Youth Leadership Academy of Madison County class spent months planning the organization’s annual Dance Marathon fundraiser.

For many of them, though, devising an evening of fun activities for their peers wasn’t nearly as daunting a task as the process of choosing a deserving area nonprofit organization to receive the money raised Saturday night.

“They were all amazing,” said Jarrett Morris, a student at Frankton High School. “Every single one of them had a great pitch, and they all supported something that’s very contributive to what they try to provide for the county.”

The YLA members interviewed representatives from more than a dozen nonprofits and debated their choice for more than a week before settling on Alternatives Inc., an Anderson-based domestic violence shelter. The students hope to raise more than $20,000 to donate to Alternatives, and Morris estimated that they have already raised about 80% of that total.

Screening nonprofit organizations with the goal of supporting one is part of the leadership training provided by YLA, a program of the Leadership Academy of Madison County.

“They were highly engaged in the process,” said Jesse Reynolds, executive director of the LAMC. “It gets them involved earlier in the idea of supporting local nonprofits.

"There’s an idea of giving back, serving each other and helping the community build up. Hopefully, they develop that mindset that will help them become philanthropy-minded individuals.”

Reynolds said the Dance Marathon has been an annual event for more than 20 years. Saturday’s event was at the newly opened InerG Impact Center for the first time and, besides dancing, included cornhole and basketball tournaments, dodgeball, card games and other activities.

Raffles for prizes including pet accessories, Starbucks gift cards, a pair of AirPods and other electronics also contributed to the money raised.

“We’re just trying to have a bunch of different activities they can do, so if they’re not a dancer, then they can go play basketball or take pictures and all that stuff,” said Jacklynn Hosier, a junior at Alexandria-Monroe High School.

“It’s just a whole lot of fun, and I want everybody to have fun and want to come — not be forced to come or anything.”

This article appeared in The Herald Bulletin.