WEDDINGTON – Less than a month after the Boston Marathon bombing, students at Weddington High School are reaching out to one family stricken by the event.
Seven-year-old Jane Richard was an avid Irish step dancer until the April 15 bombing took her left leg and left her in critical condition in a Massachusetts hospital. Jane’s 8-year-old brother, Martin, was killed in the bombing and her mom, Denise, also injured, remains in critical condition. Her father, Bill, was running in the marathon and was not injured.
The family’s story hit home for Weddington teacher Kevin McGee, whose daughter is an Irish step dancer and is about the same age as Jane. McGee talked to students in his global awareness class about doing something to help, and students stepped up to the plate to put a dent in the Richard family’s mounting medical bills of more than $1 million.
On Monday, May 13, the school will host Dance Out for Jane from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the school auditorium, 4901 Monroe Weddington Road. The event will feature dancers from Rince na h’Eirann School of Irish Dance, The Walsh Kelley School of Traditional Irish Dancing and several other dance schools throughout Union County and the Charlotte region. Tickets cost $5 and will be available at the door.
“We didn’t have to do this as a project. We’re doing it just because our class wanted to,” said Maddy Muhlsteff, the 16-year-old Weddington High School junior who’s helping organize the event. “All of us are pretty horrified that something that horrible will happen to a small child (and) all of us have been talking about wanting to help people in the accident.”
The class began organizing the event last Monday and, so far, things have fallen into place, Maddy said. The two Irish dance schools immediately agreed to help and the school is securing sponsorships from local businesses, she said.
Because the class feels this event is extremely important, the students have put their global awareness studies on hold temporarily to focus on organizing and promoting the project. They’ve been making flyers, hanging posters, calling businesses to recruit sponsorships and making sure all aspects of the event fall into place.
Maddy said they’re learning just as much about being global citizens through reaching out to others in need even though they’ve set their textbooks aside.
“That’s probably the reason we’re getting it done faster and done so well; if we were doing a lot of schoolwork, we probably wouldn’t have as much motivation,” she said. “But we’re learning about (global awareness) in class” through organizing Dance Out for Jane, she added.
Planning the event goes beyond the classroom, Maddy said – it’s changing the students’ lives, as well.
“It’s putting all of us more in a good mood,” she said. “We’re so much happier now that we can help some way … we’re amazed that we can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Maddy said the school hopes to raise at least $30,000 through the event. Tickets cost $5 and the students will welcome any donations from event goers and area businesses who want to help. All proceeds go directly to the Richard Family Fund.
The school also is looking for sponsors to donate water and snacks for the dancers. For more information on the event or how to become a sponsor, call the school at 704-708-5530. Find more about the Richard Family Fund on the nonprofit’s website, www.RichardFamilyFund.org.