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Dance for a Difference fundraiser scores big

A few of Liberty High School’s Difference Makers fire up the crowd at the first annual Dance for a Difference mini-dance marathon Sunday, April 22, at Liberty High in North Liberty. The dance raised funds for children ailing from cancer or other illness. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

NORTH LIBERTY– It was a vivacious scene in Liberty High School’s auxiliary gym on the afternoon of Sunday, April 22.
About 100 dancers signed up for Dance for a Difference, which ran from noon to 4 p.m. The event featured a DJ, face painting, food, a costume dance raffle, a silent auction and a teacher dance at 3 p.m.
“Dance for a Difference was amazing. Everyone was dancing, singing and just sharing their love with one another,” remarked Liberty High senior and Difference Maker Madi Barta, following the event.
Hosted by Liberty High’s Difference Makers club, the fundraiser sought to support families with children facing cancer and other terminal illnesses. In total, the inaugural Dance for a Difference raised a whopping $26,755.22.
“Everyone was so happy when the total was revealed,” said Barta. “None of us knew what to expect with it being our first event, so when they turned the tote boards, we were all feeling pure joy.”
The success gives students of Liberty High just one more reason to celebrate as their first year at the brand-new school comes to a triumphant close.
“We went into this event not knowing what to expect,” Barta confessed. “We ended up totally surpassing what we thought we would ever be close to, and that was one of the most amazing feelings!”
Proceeds from the dance will be distributed among the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, the Fight with Flash Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House.
Dance for a Difference featured four guest speakers: the Snyder family, whose daughter, Jordan, faces congenital heart defects; Brenda Gordley, a child psychiatric nurse and former child life specialist; the Schroeders, whose son, Austin “Flash” Schroeder, had a form of T-Cell lymphoma and passed away in 2015; and the Schmidt family, whose son, Dylan, is a student at Liberty High school. Dylan was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, stage I, but is now cancer-free.
The event took the combined efforts of faculty and two seniors with previous experience coordinating activities at their former school, Iowa City West High, while providing younger students a thrilling introduction to community fundraising.
“This was all new for many people in our club; a lot of them had never participated in an event like this before,” said Barta. “Seeing how much fun everyone had and how excited they already are for next year was just incredible.”
The senior is proud to have helped establish the Difference Makers during her first and final year at Liberty High, before passing the torch to new students eager to do their part in the community.
“I think Difference Makers have a lot of potential. This group is filled with some amazing kids, and I am so excited to see what they can do with this in the future,” she said. “I am sad to be leaving, but I know they will continue to make this their own amazing thing.”
As Liberty High carves its place in North Liberty, Barta anticipates Dance for a Different to become the Difference Makers’ flagship annual event.
“Liberty High School is the school that makes a difference. We do this for those kiddos who can’t,” she concluded. “These kiddos won’t ever stop fighting, and neither will we.”