Local middle schoolers raised $7,444 to benefit the Bear Hug Foundation of Birmingham by participating in a 90-minute dance-a-thon Tuesday night at Orchard Mall.
For the 250 students enrolled, it was the culminating event in a year's worth of dance classes through Joe Cornell Entertainment of Farmington Hills, as well as a fundraiser in which they sought out donations from friends and families.
For the Bear Hug Foundation, it's a benefit for the underprivileged, at-risk, or special needs children in the area who will be able to go to outdoor, education camp next summer which the non-profit organization serves.
This is the third year that the local entertainment family business staple has designated a worthy non-profit to receive the support. The past two years, students raised more than $15,000 for Detroit-based NPO Kids Kicking Cancer.
“When we developed the idea ... I wasn’t sure if the kids would embrace it,” said Steve Jasgur, who co-owns Joe Cornell Entertainment with his sister, Becca Schlussel.
“Becca and I loved our camping experiences as kids and wanted to support an organization which would connect our Joe Cornell students with the experiences we’d like all children to be able to have."
Schlussel gave credit to local businesses which provided incentive prizes to the students, including Tapper's and Tone-e Films of Southfield.
"It just goes to show you that we’re giving them a way to learn at a young age how important it is to give back, and to have 250 kids all working to support a cause is a great thing in itself," she said.
Schlussel added that Jonathan Hayman, 12, of West Bloomfield, was awarded as the top fundraiser after working to donate $500 through pledges and dancing.