SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, on a local front, Jo-Ann’s Dance Studio – The Performing Arts Center and its subsidiary Vertical Freedom held a fundraiser last weekend in honor of founder. Approximately $1,500 was raised at the Oct. 19 event and all proceeds will benefit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, which will triple donations made by month’s end. 

“Everything went just beautifully and exceeded my expectations,” said studio founder and owner Jo-Ann Faulkner, a breast cancer survivor. “I felt so blessed and thankful and humbled by everything that went on that day.” 

Last Saturday’s breast cancer awareness fundraiser ran from 12 to 4 p.m. and offered children and adults the opportunity to attend half-hour dance, pole, and fitness classes as well as hour-long aerial and circus workshops. Additionally, there were raffles for gift baskets donated by community members and studio families along with refreshments, including homemade goods made by studio staff and families past and present. 

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“I wanted to honor my mother and with all the things she has been fighting through this seemed like a really good way to utilize the studio and Vertical Freedom to honor her and her fight,” said Tara Faulkner-Catalina, event organizer and the studio’s assistant director. “It turned out even better than I imagined it would.” 

According to Faulkner, the day’s success would not have been possible without all those who supported the event by attending classes, donating money and gift baskets, and/or assisting throughout the day. 

“All the love at our breast cancer awareness event was overwhelming. On behalf of Jo-Ann’s Dance Studio and Vertical Freedom, we thank each and everyone of you …It would not have been the success it was without all of you,” said Faulkner, extending special thanks to her daughter and all the staff for their efforts. “They worked tirelessly and were wonderful and Tara planned everything. It really was a labor of love.”

“At the end of the day it was a lot of fun and we raised money that will help save peoples’ lives,” added Faulkner-Catalina. “We hope to make this an annual event.”

The studio will be accepting donations through Saturday, Oct. 26; all monies need to be received by Memorial Sloan Kettering by Oct. 31 to ensure that the donation is tripled. Anyone wishing to donation can drop off cash or check (payable to ‘cash’ only) to the studio. For more information, call Jo-Ann’s Dance Studio at (908) 561-5094 or email Tara Catalina-Faulkner at taracatalina@me.com.

Jo-Ann’s Dance Studio – The Performing Arts Center, currently in its 42nd year, is located at 4475 South Clinton Avenue. For more information on the dance studio, visit Joannsdancestudionj.com; for information on the Vertical Freedom program, visit www.veritcalfreedom.com

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