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Dear Editor:

“A 12 hour dance marathon? Are you crazy?”

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This was the most common reaction I received as I spread the word about Dance Valley Dance, a fundraiser benefiting Stepping Stones and Aspen Youth Center, that took place at the Carbondale Recreation Center on April 14. Yes, it was a very ambitious idea for two small youth organizations. And yes, it was challenging. But no, I am not totally crazy.

Aside from raising funds for our organizations, Dance Valley Dance was inspired by our desire to host a collaborative, community event for the youth in our valley. Michaela Idhammar from Aspen Youth Center approached me in the fall of 2017 with this idea, and I was thrilled about the opportunity to create a fun annual event that would bring our organizations, our participants, and our supporters together. Partnering with Aspen Youth Center felt so natural, as we share the same passion for empowering youth. Aspen Youth Center and Stepping Stones both strive to provide free, quality youth programs to our valley, and we wanted to celebrate our unique participants and supporters.

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And boy, did we celebrate! The day started off with a high energy Zumba class lead by the wonderful Luis Olmedo. Other talented movers kept the day busy, including Alexandra Jerunicka with Coredination and Bonedale Ballet, Shannon Jones, and yoga instructor Emilee Phelan. Between instructors, there was never a dull moment, thanks to the upbeat hits curated by DJ Dylan from Aspen DJs and the Aspen High School DJ club. Twelve hours of dancing required constant nourishment, which was provided by local favorites Coloradough, Peppino’s Pizza, Rocky Mountain Pizza Company, and a full catered dinner from Aspen Skiing Company. Carbondale Recreation Center was a gracious host, providing a fun and flexible space that kept our participants entertained the whole day. We are incredibly grateful to all of these individuals and organizations for making our event possible!

What made this event a true success was our youth. These young voices are fighting for what they believe in — or in this case, dancing for it. Our youth participants were the life of this event, from the money they all raised in sponsorships, to the energy they kept up for the whole twelve hours. Beyond the fun they have at Stepping Stones and Aspen Youth Center, youth are fighting for our spaces because of the hope we provide for their futures.

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I am so thankful for the families and community members coming alongside us to empower youth in the Roaring Fork Valley. It might require us to go over the top, do more than the baseline, and dance for 12 hours. It will certainly be ambitious and challenging. But it will never be crazy.

Becca Rogers
Stepping Stones

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