News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 1, 2013

Dancing for Katelyn: Deming students stage dance in support of classmate’s heart

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Deming Elementary students danced with heart and soul Thursday — doing the Cha Cha Slide and Cupid Shuffle —  to help raise funds for one of their own.

The school conducted Heart Dance 2013 to benefit 8-year-old Katelyn Newell, a Deming second-grader who has spent the past eight weeks at Riley Hospital for Children awaiting a heart transplant.

The after-school event, which drew a large crowd, included music, a dance, games, food and FaceTime with Katelyn. Some students dressed casually in jeans and tennis shoes, while some of the girls wore fancy dresses and put up their hair.

Principal Susan Mardis and fifth-grade students came up with the idea — February is Heart Month — while teachers Jacob Kisor, Kasey Chew and Sarah Mains organized the event.

“We want to support our student, Katelyn. We care about her,” said Kisor, the school’s music teacher who also acted as DJ for the evening. “Katelyn needs a new heart. We thought we would try and help pay for some of her medical expenses.”

Also, the school wanted to do a fundraiser that involved the students, Mains said.

The Heart Dance sold out all 2,000 tickets right away, so tickets had to be recycled during the event. Tickets sold for 25 cents each.

Up through the dance, the school had raised $900 for Katelyn in various other fundraising events. With the Heart Dance, “I know we’ll go over $1,000,” Mardis said.

Events included a photo booth, ping pong, ring toss, a book walk, H-O-R-S-E basketball and cornhole. For fun, Chew, an art teacher, did “blind” portraits of students in which she did  line drawings without looking at the paper. The pictures were silly, on purpose.

Students could purchase baked goods, including heart-shaped Rice Krispy treats and heart-themed candy.

During one FaceTime session, in which Katelyn could be seen on an iPad and a large screen, “We said. ‘Hi, we love you and we miss you,’” Mardis said. “Her brothers talked to her and several kids talked to her, and we sang the school song.”

During another FaceTime, Deming students danced to music by Justin Bieber, Katelyn’s favorite singer.

 Teachers and parents volunteered for the event.

Among those who attended was Reanna Kitchen, a fifth-grade student. “I’m here to support Katelyn and help her out when she goes through her surgery,” she said. “I’m glad a lot of people came today.”

Kitchen danced, had her picture taken and her portrait drawn. She spent a lot of time talking to friends. “I’m having a lot of fun,” she said.

Quianna Herron, a fourth-grade student, said, “I like Katelyn. She’s a really sweet girl.” Herron wanted to raise money for Katelyn “to help her survive and get her heart.”

Damian Newell, 12, Katelyn’s brother, was glad to see so many people turn out to support his sister. Another brother, Austin Moody, age 11, said, “They love her.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or