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Dance marathon benefits Children’s Miracle Network

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WATERTOWN — About 150 teenagers danced from noon to midnight Saturday at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center, as part of the annual dance marathon to benefit the local Children’s Miracle Network affiliate.

But it was 1-year-old Lily M. Kowalczyk who stole the show, as the crowd chanted “Lily” as she was joined onstage by her father, Jason J. Kowalczyk, and mother, Elisa M. Cesario. Ms. Cesario explained to the teens how events like the dance marathon help care for Lily. It was discovered during Ms. Cesario’s pregnancy that Lily was missing part of her left arm.

“If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have this,” she said, as they showed off the smiling baby. “If you get tired from dancing, think of Lily. Don’t give up.”

She told the dancers that she and Mr. Kowalczyk, both of Black River, will look into prosthetics for Lily in the future.

CMN Development Manager Morgan O’Brien Bocciolatt said members of the extended CMN family, such as the Kowalczyks/Cesarios, speak during the event each year to reiterate to dance marathon participants why their contributions are important.

The event, sponsored by the New Visions class of 2014, benefits sick and injured children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. This year’s theme was “Glowathon,” and the New Visions class and event staff made glow merchandise available, created a glow dance floor and used neon colors throughout the main event room. Entertainment was provided by Pat Flemming and Kyle Harris. Fire Magick, a local hula-hooping duo, also performed.

Miss Bocciolatt said all dancers were required to raise a minimum of $30, but as an incentive for collecting more, the teenagers were entered into a prize drawing for every additional $25 they raised. Top prizes included an iPad Mini and an Xbox.

“It’s amazing young people are capable to make such a difference,” she said. “It’s been really fun.”

Courtney M. Netto, 17, a senior at Watertown High School and a New Visions student, said the entire New Visions class has been committed to the event, with a few classmates, herself included, “going overboard” to help the cause. She said the goal was to raise $20,000.

Ashlyn M. Caccavo, Haley N. Call, Kaylynn R. Raso and Madison L. Bird, all eighth-graders at General Brown Junior-Senior High School, Dexter, were part of a 13-member team that raised more than $400.

“The whole event sounded fun,” Miss Call said.

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