Dance Team Serves Community with Pride

by Emily DiGiusto
Class of 2015

This past Sunday, April 26th, the Braintree High School Varsity Dance Team had the opportunity to help out at the fifth annual ‘Run for Charlotte,’ beginning at the Bayshore Athletic Club parking lot in Braintree. Since 2011, the volunteer group, Prayers for Charlotte, has raised enough money to sponsor approximately $75,000 in research grants for neuroblastoma, as well as allocate close to $200,000 to families battling the cancer. Neuroblastoma is a “rare and aggressive form of cancer associated with the nerve cells and adrenal glands that commonly occurs in infants and very young children.” Its cause is unknown.

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In June 2009, Charlotte Kelly, daughter of Patrice and Greg Kelly, was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma at only two years old. She underwent extensive treatments; yet, despite the chemotherapy, radiation, and two stem-cell transplants, the disease relapsed and Charlotte did not make it through. She died December 7, 2011.

This race is a Braintree event held in her memory. For the second year in a row, the State and New England Champion Varsity Dance Team was asked to help entertain the kids at different stations set up in the main parking lot. Some activities included temporary tattooing, and games such as Ring Toss and Cornhole, with chances to win various prizes. The Dance Team was honored to have been asked and delighted to accept and participate.

At the race there is food (donated from numerous Braintree restaurants), music, and a feeling of excitement that lasts throughout the entire event. Kelly Martin, a junior on the dance team, commented, “It’s fun watching everyone come together, and it’s so nice to be able to give back to to the community that has shown us so much support during our season.”

Kelly was also impressed to see so many people volunteering at her neighbor’s house earlier in the week putting race bags together, and then the day before the race volunteering for registration, too. Local companies also donated to help fund signs that advertised the event. This year there was even a billboard in Boston.

“It’s an event that everyone looks forward too,” Kelly affirmed.

Justin Doherty summarized his opinion of the event in five simple words, “I love the Charlotte race.”

Justin, a dedicated runner and captain of the Boys’ Varsity Track Team at Braintree High School, also displayed Wamp Pride as he ran in the race this past Sunday and placed first. He says that of all the races he participates in, this race is his favorite.

The race seems to be a favorite of most residents of Braintree, too. The atmosphere was one of unity and positivity, and more people than ever before, it seemed, were camped outside their houses along the route, or standing on the sides, cheering for the runners and handing out water. The overwhelming support helped provide the runners with the energy and motivation they needed to complete the race.

The signs along the side of the route, honoring specific children who are currently battling neuroblastoma or who have died from it, served as a pivotal reminder to the participants why they run the race, as well: to finish the fight, to never give up, and to inspire these brave children to do the same. It’s an atmosphere of hope, of support, of selflessness, and of determination to find a cure. It’s an atmosphere that the dance team, and everyone else participating in the event, was proud to be a part of.

Emily DiGiusto is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. More information about Prayers for Charlotte can be found by clicking here.