WARRENSBURG - After the crowd gyrated to the last song early Sunday morning of the first-ever Warrensburg Marathon Dance, local high school student Bryana Engle talked about the all-night event during which she lost her voice - singing, shouting and celebrating.
"Everyone was so enthusiastic, and the music was awesome," she said in a croaky whisper.
Junior Camille DeLongis agreed.
"I had a blast," she said, noting she had danced nearly all night, except for a couple of breaks when she laid down on the dance floor to combat exhaustion. "Everyone had a great time."
Lilly Hough of Lake George High School also had danced frenetically for nearly the entire 12-hour experience, and said enjoyed meeting her peers from a neighboring school.
"This was so much fun," she said. "Particularly the dance-off and there were a lot of games."
The Dance Marathon was held as a charity fundraiser, and it included dancing from 7 p.m. Saturday through Sunday at 7 a.m. in the Warrensburg High School Gymnasium.
Open to parents and the public from 7 to 11 p.m., during which bids were placed in silent auctions for goods and services donated by area businesses.
While most of the students time was spent on the dance floor, resting areas and food were provided in the school through the night to restore the dancers' energy.
WCS Junior Brandon Combs said the 12-hour event was more than just a joyful all-night social experience. Of all the students, he raised the most money of all for the five charities to benefit from the dance: the Ben Osborn Memorial Fund, Mitochondrial Hope & Help Fund, Cindy's Comfort Camp, High Peaks Hospice, and the North Country Hardship Fund. Brandon Combs alone raised more than $900.
For weeks, Brandon had canvassed friends, relatives, businesses and members of the Warrensburg Fire Co. - he is a junior member - for support of the dance's charities. Since November, he carried a sign-up sheet with him nearly everywhere.
"I get teary-eyed when I hear the problems other people have to deal with," Brandon said. "Raising money for people in need is something I love to do."
At the end of the dance, WCS principal Doug Duell announced the top fundraisers, prompting cheers.
Bryana Engle, Zack Belden, and Camille DeLongis joined Brandon in being honored for fundraising. Student Kyle Gregson was named as the event's most enthusiastic dancer.
Duell said the Warrensburg and Thurman communities rallied, as they always do, to support the charitable effort.
"This was an awesome event for our community," he said, noting the dance raised $7,420, plus more sure to be collected. "The outpouring of support was phenomenal."
He noted that Johnsburg's Chip Aldrich of AfterFX Deejay Service played all night long at no charge - after a Vermont Radio station backed out unexpectedly just days before the event.
"Aldrich kept things rolling," Duell said, noting the deejay staged games - and played popular songs that the students knew well and thoroughly enjoyed.
Aldrich had held an "air-band" competition with inflated mock instruments he brought. He also presided over a contest, in which students, hands joined in an unbroken circle, kept a hula hoop twirling while passing it around for students to duck through. Another popular game, dreamed up by the organizing committee, featured students in a timed race wrapping up classmates mummy-style in toilet paper.
Former WCS employee Karen Bailey, a cancer survivor and one of the recipients of the South Glens Falls marathon dance fundraisers, gave a kick-off speech Saturday. She said she was proud of every one of the students, and that the fundraising really benefits people. She urged that the students not only work on the event during their school career, but return as alumni to help mentor the growth of the event, sponsored by the school's PRIDE group and the junior class.
Tammy Bukovinsky, wife of motorcycle crash victim Wayne Bukovinsky of the North Country Hardship Fund, also spoke to the dancers how their efforts will help others.
WCS Junior Class advisor Debbie Hensler noted that thanks were due to Health Teacher Darlene Gordon, parents Marlene DeLongis, Lori Combs, Donna Engle, and many teachers and staff members who volunteered to conduct the event, including John Friauf, Io Bruce, Elaine Cowin, Isobell Munoff, Suzanne Glebus Mike Curtis, Christine Blakely. Other staffers just turned up Sunday to help out, she said.
"The snowy weather kept our numbers down, but this first event was exciting, and it makes us all want to raise the bar for next year," she said.