As a student at Villa Joseph Marie High School in Southampton, Maria Middleton was already losing her war against brain cancer. But her spirited concern for others led her to co-establish a school dance marathon whose proceeds were used to inspire hope. Middleton passed in 2020. But her effort goes on, as reported by WFMZ 69News.
The first edition of the nonstop, seven-hour dance party was scheduled for 2019; however, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled it.
And tragically, before the 2021 edition could be held, Middleton had already succumbed to her disease, at the age of 18.
This year’s event, held Apr. 29, raised more than $85,000. All proceeds will go toward the outreach she created, the Think Hope Foundation.
School president Tom Kardish explained the students’ involvement in handling all the fundraiser’s details in a 2021 interview with 6abc: “There’s no adults at all involved in this. [Students] think of every logistic, they raise every penny, they interact with the entire community. It’s all them, and we couldn’t be more proud.”
He went onto remember Middleton fondly: “The brightest, the most loving, the most faithful, class president. I mean, literally was just the epitome of what a woman Villa Joseph Marie embodies.”
High school junior Julia Cassidy commented on the 2022 edition, saying, “We’re here to relay her message of hope and light in the world. You walk into our gym, and it’s just, immediately a smile is brought onto your face. Just kind of bringing that happy energy.”
More on this story is at WFMZ 69 News.