History Made! Teddi Dance Raises Record $100K for Camp Good Days and Special Times
More than 500 dancers. More than 300 songs. A full 24 hours. But for participants of St. John Fisher College’s Teddi Dance for Love, there were no regrets as the group surpassed their goal and raised a record-breaking $100,395.18 to benefit Camp Good Days and Special Times.
This is the highest total ever raised in the dance-a-thon’s 37-year history, and marks the first time Fisher students have raised more than $100,000 at the event.
“The 24 hours spent in the gym has not only changed my life and those who danced, but the lives of the kids and families of Camp Good Days and Special Times; and that’s why we do it,” said Allison Smith ’19, chair of Teddi. “Yes, our feet hurt and we might have been a little grumpy at times, but overall the room was full of smiles, dancing feet, and pure love. I am so incredibly proud of the committee, captains, and vice chair. Not everyone gets to see what goes on behind the scenes, but I can attest that they truly put so much of themselves into this dance. In my four years, I have never seen a group like this, and it makes me proud to be their chair.”
Nearly 500 students, alumni, faculty, and staff participated in the 24-hour dance-a-thon, which was made possible with the help of 240 committee members and volunteers led by Smith and vice chair Tyler Adams ’20. 13WHAM News sports anchor Jenna Cottrell served as the honorary chair.
“Seeing this event in its totality over the full 24 hours—seeing the effort and commitment and dedication that you have all made—is truly inspiring,” said Cottrell. “You’re giving so many kids, and so many people with cancer, the ability to have fun, to enjoy themselves, and to not worry about the stresses in their life that are so unique to those with cancer.”
During the dance, Fisher’s President Dr. Gerard J. Rooney, offered his thanks to the dancers.
“We really couldn’t be more proud of you. This has been a great Teddi,” Rooney said. “Thanks to each and every one of you for your commitment. We are blown away by the great young people that you are; the great young adults you are becoming; and the great citizens and alumni of this institution that you will be.”
The fundraiser kicked off with a performance by Austin Giorgio, a Webster native and Season 14 contestant on “The Voice.” Throughout the night, other featured performers included Drastic Measures, Irish Dance Club, and the Ukulele Club. Musical theme hours, such as Boy Band Hour, Disney Hour, Fun in the Sun Hour, and Diva Hour, kept dancers’ toes tapping through the night.
The committee also collected hair donations to benefit Children With Hair Loss, a nonprofit organization that provides human hair replacements at no cost to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss. Participants were offered free haircuts and a “before” and “after” reveal on stage for those willing to donate their hair. In total, Teddi will donate 2,547 inches of hair to the organization, topping last year’s donation by 200 inches.
One of the more moving moments of Teddi is when the dancing stops and a special camper is honored. This year’s honoree was Alissa Cole, who passed away in September 2018 at the age of 26. A longtime camper and volunteer of Camp Good Days, Cole attended the Doing a World of Good summer program for several years.
Cole was a Kindergarten inclusion teacher at Theodore Roosevelt School No. 43 in the Rochester City School District at the time of her passing. According to those who knew her, she truly loved each child she taught, and found inspiration in making a positive impact on her young students.
Gary Mervis, founder of Camp Good Days and Special Times, and father of the event’s namesake, Teddi Mervis, also addressed the dancers.
“Camp Good Days is a celebration of life and the children and adults who have learned how to appreciate it most,” Mervis told the dancers. “The two greatest gifts that we as human beings can give to each other is our love and our time and you all have given a great deal of both to the kids that you met here today, and some that you’ll never meet. But you made a difference in their lives.”