Education, Local News

James Hart dance-a-thon raises money for cancer support group

James Hart School students found fun ways to keep moving the last days of school raising more than $2,400 through a dance-a-thon supporting the nonprofit Embrace Emily that assists cancer patients.

Jon Kempe stands alongside the Embrace Emily poster at Homewood’s James Hart School. He won the hula-hoop contest during the school’s dance-a-thon May 29 raising funds for Embrace Emily, a nonprofit supporting cancer patients.
(Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Over two days, the students took part in traditional line dances and added their own favorites, such as Cupid’s “Cupid Shuffle” and “The Floor is Lava Dance” by Danny Go. And the hula-hoops were brought out for a competition on the stage as students swayed their hips to see who would keep the hula-hoop going the longest. The winner of that contest on day one was Jon Kempe, an incoming seventh grader who participated in two rounds and won both.

James Hart School teacher Ellen Noonan thanks
incoming seventh grader Craig Freberg for raising
$175 for Embrace Emily, a nonprofit supporting
cancer patients. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Teachers at Hart supported various fundraisers in 2014 and 2016 for their friend Emily Klaus when she needed treatment that wasn’t covered by insurance. Before she died in 2017, her best friend promised that Embrace Emily would continue to keep her legacy alive and help others as well. 

In 2018, Embrace Emily was given nonprofit status. Since then, the organization has raised more than $56,000 and assisted nearly two dozen women, including two Hart School teachers, who are dealing with cancer, said Ellen Noonan, a Hart School reading specialist and president of Embrace Emily.

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Any incoming seventh or eighth grade student who raised $25 for Embrace Emily got a T-shirt for their efforts. Topping the list was Craig Freberg, an incoming seventh grader, who raised $175 and Roy Smith, an incoming eighth grader, who raised $159.

Craig said he has asked his mom, uncle and grandfather for donations and then his mom asked clients to donate. He raised the money in two days “so I could help someone who needs to pay bills” as they fight the disease.

Donations for Embrace Emily are being accepted at embraceemily.org.

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