When it came time to write another post for our #momcrushmonday series about moms in our area who ROCK…I immediately thought of the South High Marathon Dance. With less than a week to go until the big day, you can feel the energy rising in our community.
I started thinking about the dancers and the hard work they’re putting in this week. Bags are being packed, last-minute phone calls are being made for fundraising efforts, and that last bit of hot glue is being reapplied to costumes.
And behind every glue gun, helping to load those suitcases in the car, braiding hair, and counting up all the money…is a mom. (And a dad or aunt, uncle, grandparent of course, but today we’re crushin’ on the moms.)
If you’ve experienced the dance, think for a moment about just how many moms are behind the scenes at SHMD.
You’ve got the moms of alumni who’ve been sticking around to help out at the snack bar or in the kitchen even though their kids graduated years ago.
You’ve got the alumni moms who come back to the dance every year to volunteer with little ones in tow.
You’ve got the moms of younger students helping with events at elementary and middle schools to inspire the future dancers and contribute to the cause.
You’ve got the moms of current students running the kids to marathon meetings, scrambling to pick up donations, and helping with every little SHMD detail.
You’ve got the recipient moms– the moms who wrote in to the dance to ask for help and support. The mom whose heart aches for her child and needs to be surrounded by our community.
And, of course, you’ve got the mom who’s a combination of a few of these!
That’s a whole ‘lotta AMAZING moms in one place. (By the way, I think you Marathon Moms should create your own Facebook group because if you pooled all that talent, drive, and dedication, you’d have one powerful bunch!)
My next step for writing this article was to seek out a mom to feature. But which type of Marathon Mom would I choose? I sent out a Facebook message asking for nominations of a Marathon Mom, and the response was overwhelming. I couldn’t possibly pick one. So, I’m featuring all of them.
Please know the moms wanted this post to be a thank you to all the Marathon Moms out there. The best part about these moms is they don’t want the credit- they’re the behind-the-scenes types.
They all- every single one of them- denied being a true Marathon Mom. Each one sent me the name of someone else they thought better deserved the recognition. They were in utter shock they had been nominated. (Um, the red and blue nails and the SHMD profile pic sort of gave you away, Mamas.)
When I asked the moms to send me a picture of them at the dance, I received responses like, “Well, I have a picture of my kid at SHMD, but not one of me.” The Marathon Moms are working their tails off, never stepping forward to take the credit. They do it all for the kids, and for our community. And that’s the best kind of mom.
Who are the Marathon Moms?
Wife of Joe Capozucca, mom to two daughters, Maddie (11th grader) and Jillian (6th grader), and Slugger, the family dog.
For Tracy, the dance quickly becomes a family affair. They all help to spread the word about SHMD to friends and family who may want to make donations. The Capozucca’s business also donates items to the silent auction, and the entire family helps to raise money for the dance.
Trish’s family is seriously dedicated to SHMD! Her husband Tom is a teacher at South High in the Art Department and an advisor of SHMD. Her oldest daughter, Mackenzie, is an alumni who was a SHMD Chairperson her last two years of high school. Her youngest daughter, Allie, is currently a SHMD Chairperson as a Sophomore at South High. They have three male rescue cats, which Trish lovingly refers to as their Fuzzbutts- Baby, Bubka & Koda. (I’m honestly surprised they don’t own a bulldog named Southy!)
After 12 years of face painting, Trish passed the torch to her crew, Amanda Chovan, Jenn Pease and Collene Streicher. She says it was a difficult decision to make because she loved painting all those little faces and looked forward to an ever-growing group of “regulars” that would come see her. But, in 2014, she was asked to get involved with the SHMD Garments aspect of the dance. She worked on designing, ordering and selling all the retail merchandise with John Van Wie and Mary Mann. She realized after two dances of working garments and face painting, she just couldn’t do both any more. She says she hasn’t found the recipe to clone herself yet. (Trish, please share if you ever find this recipe!)
SHMD Garments is a large aspect of the dances’ fundraising efforts. She says they start brainstorming as early as a few weeks following the dance for the next dance- it’s a year-round commitment- and they love it! (Don’t worry. I’ve already worked on convincing Trish to add a Marathon Moms t-shirt to the order next year.)
Tieka is married to John Harrington, and they have two daughters Jillian, a freshman at South High, and Janessa, a seventh-grader. They have been residents of South Glens Falls for 18 years. Jillian was a recipient of the dance in 2014.
Tieka runs a booth with Karrie Cook at SHMD in the old gym. They offer colored extensions, hair wraps, colored spay for the boys, cornrows, and braids. Each year they try to come up with something new and exciting. She says, “All these people come out to support marathon, and we get to help them show it by giving them red and blue spikes or cornrows with bulldog charms dangling off. What better way is there to show bulldog love?”
Her oldest daughter is now old enough to participate in the dance, so they try to come up with different ways to raise money throughout the year. Her youngest daughter sells raffle basket tickets for the middle school so she can dance during the hour provided for grades 6-8.
Megan is an alumni of South High married to a fellow alumni, Nick Quinn. The two serve as lead members of the Production Crew each year. They have two boys, Andrew (4) and Peter (6 months). Megan says the boys are the most spectacular thing to ever happen to her. (We know EXACTLY what you mean, Meg!) Megan’s family and the entire Production Crew are excited to celebrate the 40th year of SHMD.
Caitlin has four children, Aidan (11), Avery (8), Annalise (7), and Aubren (4), who all attend South Glens Falls schools. This year’s dance will be her 18th. She’s returned every year to volunteer as an alumni, but this year her son, Aidan, is also a recipient.
Caitlin says, “It’s a completely different feeling this time. It’s surreal. The dance is always an emotional event, but this year definitely takes the cake for us. It’s such a relief to know your entire community is supporting you.”
Sandy is married to Tom Mahoney. She works at Fort Edward School and as an EMS Supervisor at The Civic Center. In her spare time, she teaches EMS courses at Skidmore College and is a director at the Moreau Rec. They have one son named Logan (10) who attends Harrison Avenue Elementary School.
Sandy gives back to the dance by being a part of the security team. Her son Logan was inspired to start a mini-marathon at Harrison Avenue shortly after his grandfather passed away and his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Logan wanted to find a way to help his grandmother, so he talked to his principal, Mr. Palmer, about hosting a mini-marathon event at the elementary school. Logan and Sandy worked with the SHMD advisers, the Harrison HSA, and they went looking for support in the community. Logan met with business leaders to ask for t-shirt sponsorships. He gained support from Dan and Kelly Hutchins of Superior Power Washing, Joe Gross, and Jim and Belinda Hunt, and ARCA Ink. They coordinated a DJ, a design for the shirts, and a date to hold the first Harrison Avenue Mini-Marathon Dance. Logan’s grandmother insisted the money be given to others who needed it more. (Grandmas rock, too!)
Melissa and her husband John have a six-month old named Benjamin and a cat named Max. They live in the village, and Melissa has been a teacher at Oliver W. Winch Middle School for thirteen years. She and her husband are both members of the South Glens Falls Fire Company. John’s a firefighter, and she’s in the auxiliary.
Melissa is part of the core alumni committee and works with a small crew to run the alumni merchandise table. They have input on the shirts, take part of the ordering/inventory control, and count all the money donated through the alumni.
Tracy was born and raised in South Glens Falls and says she grew up with the Marathon Dance. Now she is raising her daughter, a current dancer, in her family home. Tracy works to sell 50/50 tickets, volunteers to work the garment booth, and will be working with the kitchen crew this year.
Check out our interview with these Marathon Moms. Each has a unique perspective on the dance, and I think you’ll find it very familiar if you’ve experienced SHMD!
What was your first experience with SHMD? What are your goals to continue working with the dance?
Tracy C: I always thought SHMD was an amazing event, but it wasn’t until Madison became a dancer in her ninth-grade year that we experienced how remarkable the dance is. It was that year we nominated a very special person to be a recipient, and they were chosen. Our family experienced first-hand how the marathon helped this family financially when they needed it and gave the emotional support they needed. I would like to be able to donate more of my time working at the dance in the future.
Trish: I moved a lot. I was a Bulldog the first year and a half of my life, then a Scot, then a Fort, then a Tiger. Fast forward to when Tom & I met in May ’91, he was hired at South High in the Art Department. That fall, working with his mentor Bill McCarthy, he became very involved with the dance as an advisor-in-training to Bill.
Now, he told me stories about the 4 years he’d been a part of Marathon as a dancer, but I didn’t truly get what the big deal was about this “little dance” UNTIL he brought me to my first one in March of 1992. I helped out as a volunteer for whatever was needed- bringing food to the cafeteria, pushing carts of orange slices out to the dancers in the gym, running to Abbott’s for bags of ice, sweeping hallways, taking out the trash with Gibby (custodian), room monitor, fetching food for the DJs, and making posters.
In the next few years Tom and I were involved with the shirts for the dance, (alumni, dancer, etc.) which involved printing, folding and delivering t-shirts prior to the start of the dance. (Our old BANANA TEES screen printing days!) Back to my first Marathon experience- All I can say is those two days forever changed my life as well as the recipients’ lives. I couldn’t imagine not being there and being involved, and we have been blessed to be a small part of this amazing community we call our home.
I am incredibly proud to say our daughters have been, are, and will always be, a part of SHMD. They were born into it. My oldest, Mackenzie, went to the 1998 dance BEFORE she was born. I was there 8+ months pregnant, big as a house! The DJ, Jerry Moller, named her Buddha Baby. Dave Powers (50/50 Tickets) and Steve McNaughton (EMT) wanted me to do a few laps around the track so we could have our “1st Marathon Baby” born at a dance! So to say it’s in their blood isn’t far from the truth and they love it as much as we do … WE ❤️ SHMD!!
After our daughters were a little older, I realized there really wasn’t much for the dancers’ younger siblings or other kids to do while the dance. I decided to set up a face painting booth with the other vendors in the old gym and take donations to give to the dance. My first year (2005), I was thrilled to raise over $100! Every year following it got bigger and better! Later on, a couple former South High students joined me on the Face Painting Committee. Because it was such a hit with the little kids, adults and alumni, I needed help keeping up with the line of customers!
I know my family will always be involved with the dance in the future. I see myself continuing to work with the Garments Committee, even after Allie graduates high school in 2019. Our group has fun and we work so well together…bouncing ideas off of each other, coming up with concepts for designs and finding the next “must have” SHMD merchandise.
Tieka: My first experience of SHMD was all the talk going around town about this amazing event that took place right where I was living. Once my oldest was in elementary school, that’s when I saw what this event was really all about. I couldn’t believe the amount of people Marathon helped and how many lives it affected in such a positive way. At that point, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help. I was a Girl Scout leader at the time, and I was sharing with Chris Whorf (another girl scout mom) how I would love to help raise money but didn’t know exactly what to do and how. I owned a salon, but I knew they already offered haircuts at the dance. The popular hair trend that year was feather extensions. Chris talked with her husband Jim, who is a big part of SHMD, and the next thing I knew I was running a booth at the dance and putting in hundreds of extensions!
One of my main goals is raising enough money to give back what SHMD gave to us. My daughter Jillian was a recipient in 2014, and I would love to be able to pay back what was given to her. She has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and an immune disorder. She went through one of the hardest years of her life 2014. She had some surgeries and missed over half a year of school. What SHMD gave her and our family in hope and spirit, I can never replace. But, to be able to work my booth and raise money to give back to other recipients- I will do it as long as I can. I will never stop being involved with the dance. What they have done for us and so many others, and what they will continue to do, is something I always want to be a part of. If there ever comes a time I can’t do my booth, you will find me somewhere else in the building volunteering.
Megan: I was born and raised here in South Glens Falls, so I have been around the dance since I was born. My dad and his whole family are alumni (including my grandmother!). I started out like every one else, waiting patiently for that 5th grade D.A.R.E hour with “Officer Jeff” in our over-sized adult XL shirts. After that, I attended every dance in between because my brother, Matt Lemery, was a dancer. Finally in 9th grade I got to be a dancer myself. I was a chairperson in 11th and 12th grade, and it was the best time of my life. After I graduated, I returned as an alumni and met my husband through Deep Run Marathon Dance. We came up with the idea to bring in some video cameras in 2009. With the expertise of Josh Jacobs a few years later, the production team blossomed into what it is today. I hope to stay as involved as I can as my children come up through the SGF school system. My passion is the production team, and I have made myself a nice little home there.
Caitlin: My first experience with SHMD was in 5th grade, dancing with my class. I’ll never forget it. It seemed huge then, and to think of how big its gotten now, it’s just crazy! I participated as a dancer from 2000-2003 and have been returning each year since to volunteer as an alumni with my father who volunteers for security- this is his 23rd year!
I will return every year to volunteer. Looking forward, I can’t wait for the day my children get to participate as dancers. This year especially shows them how much of a difference you can make in someone else’s life, and I hope to continue to show them how to pay it forward.
Sandy: I am a South High alumni, and always did the work behind the scenes. When I graduated and came home from college, I began volunteering as an EMS person then on the Security Team, which is where I still volunteer today.
I’ll continue to give back to the dance and help with the mini-marathon as much as I am needed, even as Logan moves on to the middle school. I know Logan is already thinking of ways to fund-raise while in the middle school.
Melissa: My first Marathon Dance was in 1995. I was a freshman, and at the time 9th grade was still in the junior high. I really didn’t know a lot about the dance, but my friends and I were excited to get involved. After that first dance, I was hooked. I participated throughout high school, then returned as part of the alumni organization, never missing a dance.
I hope to remain involved in the dance in some way as the future unfolds. I enjoy my current role, and look forward to being involved as a parent. The elementary schools and middle school do so much to raise money now, and I’m excited for Benjamin to get involved! He will definitely be visiting the dance this year with his Grandma. The plan is to raise a SHMD kid!
Tracy L: My first experience with Marathon was when I started dancing as a freshman in 1988, and I continued through my senior year. In 2013, when my daughter was in the middle school, I started volunteering for the 50/50 table. My goals are to continue to support this amazing dance in any way I can.
What do you think is the most special part about SHMD?
Tracy C: The most special part of the dance is our community’s involvement and the involvement of the surrounding communities. It’s moving to see all of the support being given to the dancers, and most importantly, the support given to the recipients.
Trish: There’s too many special parts about SHMD to pick just one, but as a resident and a parent in this wonderful community, I love that we all (students, parents, teachers, administration, businesses, SGF and surrounding community members, etc.) come together with the same mindset and mission- to help change lives for the better. KINDNESS IS POWERFUL & ADDICTIVE. Once you experience SHMD you just can’t stop!
Tieka: Wow that’s a hard one because I don’t think there is one special part. First, how amazing is the amount of work that goes into setting up the marathon each year? The number of people it takes to pull off an event of this magnitude is pretty special. What happens behind the scenes and the amount of hours, days, weeks and months it takes to prepare is something no one can explain. That, to me, takes some pretty special people. Then the dancers themselves- they go out and collect money, come up with ideas to raise that money, make props and participate in skits, and stay up for hours dancing and encouraging each other to charge forward through each hour. Those kids are pretty special. They come together for the good of the recipients and put everything aside to dance their hearts out for people who are in need. Let’s not forget the recipients. They share their life stories and open their hearts to feel the love these kids are pouring into them. Over 800 kids dance for these special people. I have been on many sides of Marathon, and during all of them I would say it was more than special.
Megan: The most special part of the dance is the thought that these children, out of the goodness of their heart, have chosen the recipients for one reason or another SOLELY because they want to help. No preconceived notions. No outside opinions, no adult interference. Just the pure, loving hearts of children who were brought up in a community who is so very proud of them for doing something so amazing.
Caitlin: There are so many amazing parts, it’s hard to pick just one. The dancers, the difference they’re making, the money they raise to help others, the community coming together (regardless of differences) to offer their support, the volunteers who give up their entire weekend to make it all run smoothly. I guess the most special part would be everyone who pulls together and makes SHMD work. Each piece is necessary to form the whole puzzle.
Sandy: As a representative of the Moreau Recreation Center, I experienced the feeling of being chosen by the students as a recipient and seeing the compassion shown by all at the dance. The best part is knowing that the students of our town are so dedicated, caring, kind and compassionate when it comes to giving. They know the true meaning of kindness and what it can do for others. Being kind to others always stays with you, and I think being a part of SHMD teaches kindness and compassion. That feeling will stay throughout the dancers’ lives.
Melissa: The recipients are the heart of the dance. They are the reason we all come together each year. At the end of every Marathon Dance, look at the dancers’ faces. They are exhausted, but when they see those recipients up front, and hear just how much the money raised will make a difference in their lives, exhaustion quickly fades to pride. That pride and love shines from their eyes and eventually streams down their cheeks. There is no greater feeling than that.
Tracy L: The most special part about SHMD is listening to the recipients’ stories and then when they express their gratitude toward the dancers and alumni. This dance started out so small, and now the community comes together and makes the dance what it is today.
From a mom’s point of view, why is it so important for our kids to experience this dance?
Tracy C: The dance gives my entire family time to reflect on our health. Although we weren’t recipients, nine years ago I was diagnosed with cancer, and our family did receive some financial support and a lot of emotional support from the community. It made a horrible time much easier due the support that we got at that time. SHMD is important to our entire family because we know what it’s like to need help when you already feel so defeated.
Trish: It teaches compassion and understanding for others. It builds everlasting friendships and bonds. It fills their hearts with love and kindness! When those dancers take to the gym floor, they become one. They know what they are there for, and they know they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. There are no differences between classes (freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors). There is a spirit of camaraderie. They are one big unified team and they pump each other up to not stop and just keep going. As parents we try to teach our children to be kind to everyone, and this dance only helps to foster what we’ve been teaching them.
Tieka: When I try to explain SHMD to someone who has never seen or heard about the dance, I tell them it’s not something I can explain. It’s something you must feel. When you walk in those doors and see 800+ kids coming together and dancing for the same cause, it will take your breath away. It will bring tears to your eyes. As a mom, that’s what I want my kids to experience. As dancers, I want them to experience the hard work of raising money for the recipients. I want them to experience the blood, sweat and tears of making props and working with others to come up with ideas and see that plan through. I want them to experience the bond of hundreds of kids coming together to help others in need. Most of all I want them to experience the love that pours out of those recipients. These are moments, memories and bonds they will never forget.
Megan: It’s such a unique experience for them. It’s a time where cliques don’t matter. Where it doesn’t matter who your friends are, or what sports you play, or what your grades are. For a brief moment in time they are working together as one unit to create a better world for people in need. It’s important for kids to know compassion and acceptance, and that is exactly what they experience at marathon.
Caitlin: It shows children you can make a difference. That you and your actions matter. It brings a sense of community and pride- things that kids need to feel and experience. And it shows them that as a community, we support and help those who need it.
Sandy: I love seeing my son show compassion, caring for others, and never-ending kindness. It is an everyday reminder to be kind, to give to others that may be in need, and to realize you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. The students of SGF show us how easy all of this is when you work as a team. They pull the community together with their hard work. These are traits I would love my son to have and carry forward in his life.
Melissa: I’m only six months into my own experience as a mom, but I do get to see many former students taking part in the dance each year. I think getting involved in something so incredibly selfless and raising money to help those in need helps kids play an important role in their community. It helps them develop into caring, compassionate adults, who recognize the importance of helping others.
Tracy L: Marathon is important for the kids because it makes them appreciate and realize what they have in a community as wonderful as ours. It shows them how to share compassion, love, and respect for those they’ve never met before. It’s a profound feeling.
Thank you to all the Marathon Moms out there! We see your hard work and dedication to your kids and to all the kids in our community. You are amazing role models for future generations of SHMDers.
To donate to the dance and to watch it live March 3rd and 4th, visit www.shmd.org.
This series is dedicated to awesome local moms in our region. The goal is to take a moment to shine the spotlight on deserving moms. Why? Because we are the best support for one another in this journey of mommyhood. It’s not easy to balance being a mom with everything else life has to throw at us, and all too often we can feel like we aren’t enough. On Mondays, we say YOU ARE AMAZING, MOMMA! So if you know of a mom who rocks it, please use the contact form to let us know. We’ll set up an interview with her, and feature her in one of our posts!