If it were possible to dance away the problems of domestic violence and teen dating violence, the nearly 100 high school students planning this year’s Dance Marathon would do it.

But since it’s not, the students from Bartholomew County high schools and home-schooled students have set a goal of raising $182,000 at the 12-hour marathon, with $138,000 in profits going to Turning Point Domestic Violence Services Inc.

Last year’s event raised about $170,000, with a $126,000 profit, despite being shortened by bad weather, organizers said.

Proceeds will represent about 9 percent of Turning Point’s general budget for the year, said Whittney Loyd, vice president of resource development for Turning Point.

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About $24,000 of the fundraising goal, set by students, comes from attendees who raise $30 or more as part of their registration fee. Most of the rest comes from donations made by local businesses and organizations.

Volunteers anticipated up to 600 students will attend the 16th annual Dance Marathon from 6 p.m. Feb. 28 to 6 a.m. March 1 at Columbus East High School, Loyd said.

This year’s theme is “Come Together,” after The Beatles’ song from the 1969 “Abbey Road” album.

“It’s a huge task for teens,” Loyd said. “We really want to thank them for being such great role models for their peers.”

The event is not a lock-in, as students are allowed to come and go throughout the evening, Loyd said. And although it’s billed as a dance, moving and grooving on your feet is optional.

“There’s so many things to do other than dance. We’ve got (video) gaming, the team competition, minute-to-win-it games, and we give away prizes,” Loyd said. “This year we’re showing movies throughout the night.”

Loyd said Disney movies picked out by the planning committee will include the 2013 hit “Frozen.”

This year, musical entertainment will be provided by a handful of DJs instead of using bands as in the past. The change was in response to a student survey asking what live entertainment students preferred. During the event, disc jockeys will be able to show off their skills during a DJ battle, she said.

Planning process

Seniors at Columbus East planned the first dance marathon in 2000 as part of a senior project. But now, East students have been joined by peers from Columbus North, Columbus Christian and Hauser high schools in planning the event, as well as other students who are home-schooled.

Student planners have been divided into groups, each focusing on an aspect of the marathon. Their work has been done outside school hours since April. The groups are responsible for awareness, prizes, volunteers, fundraising, finances, facilities, marketing, food, entertainment and registration.

Some of the prizes to be given away include Visa gift cards, a record player, a Fitbit cordless exercise-monitoring device, Beats Solo headphones and a Keurig coffee-brewing system.

But the night is not just about fun and prizes. It’s the awareness subgroup’s job to make sure everyone understands the seriousness of domestic and teen dating violence.

During every hour of the event, a 10-minute presentation will educate students about different aspects of domestic and teen dating violence, said Columbus North senior Jacob Bricker, 18, a member of the awareness planning group.

“It can either be an informational video, we can put on a skit, we can do an interactive activity with the students, any of those things,” Bricker said. “One in three teens affected by teen dating violence is too much. We’re trying to reduce that number.”

Students assigned to the fundraising subgroup created a presentation to share with dozens of businesses throughout the Columbus area.

Columbus North senior Andrew Gold, 18, said his group emphasized that funds raised by the marathon would go to Turning Point.

“We go to the main ones you might think of — like SIHO, MainSource, Elwood Staffing and Cummins — all the way down to smaller offices. We usually make around 40 presentations,” Gold said. “This year we’re trying to up that to about 60 to meet our increased goal, which is going to be kind of a stretch for us.”

Facing reality

Not only is the group trying to raise money for a good cause, but it also was trying to share personal messages about domestic and teen dating violence with others, Gold said.

Statistics show:

The Columbus Police Department received 1,034 calls related to domestic violence were reported in 2014.

The Bartholomew County Clerk’s Office said 521 protection orders were filed by victims.

In Bartholomew County, Turning Point served 899 residents in 2013.

Hayes and Gold said the extra effort they put in is an easy sacrifice because they know people who have been affected by domestic and teen dating violence who could benefit from Turning Point services.

Two executive committee coaches — Columbus East junior Gracie Webb, 16, and Columbus North senior Lauren Britt, 18 — jump in to help where assistance is needed while making sure all projects are getting done.

Webb and Britt said they enjoy being involved with the planning process and the cause, something they weren’t completely aware of before joining the committee.

“Once I knew what to start to look for, the sign of dating abuse, I started seeing more and more dating abuse within my peers. That was really sad,” she said. “Turning Point does great work. I’m more than happy to help them.”

Britt said she has seen firsthand how abuse can impact a family. She said a sibling involved in planning a former Dance Marathon event got her involved on the prize team last year.

“I’m loving every second of it,” she said.

If you go

What: 2015 Dance Marathon.

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 28 to 6 a.m. March 1.

Where: Columbus East High School. Use the school’s east gym entrance at 230 Marr Road in Columbus.

How to buy tickets

Those interested in attending the 2014 Dance Marathon are asked to raise a minimum of $30 in order to participate. All of the proceeds benefit Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.

There is also a VIP status for those who raise at least $75, which allows attendees to get past long lines, have first chance on food and earn opportunities to win prizes at the event.

To register, visit the your school’s website and click on the “Dance Marathon 2015” icon or register at https://TPDM15.eventbrite.com.

Abuse, by the numbers
  • One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
  • One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • One in four high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.

Source: www.loveisrespect.org

Adult volunteers needed

The Dance Marathon planning group hopes to register 255 volunteers who can help keep the event at Columbus East High School secure by guarding entrances and exits and making sure activities are done safely.

Individuals age 18 years and older who are out of high school and are willing to provide information for a background check are able to volunteer.

Contact volunteer committee members Ami Tincher at ami.tincher@cummins.com or 812-350-7723; or Sadie Bush at Sadie.bush@cummins.com for more information on how to volunteer.

Warning signs of dating violence

Because relationships exist on a spectrum, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line to unhealthy or even abusive actions. Use these warning signs of abuse to see if your relationship is going in the wrong direction:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do
  • Repeatedly pressuring you to have sex

Source: Turning Point Domestic Violence Services