WESTFIELD, NJ — Oona Harrigan was 6 years old when her mother enrolled her in her first Irish dance classes.
Harrigan, now 23, continued competitive Irish dance in high school and then college. So when she was given the opportunity to participate in a fundraising bicycle ride in support of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, something that allows for a “virtual rider” to raise monies for the cause, Harrigan considered that she could make a difference through dance.
“Every time I receive a donation of any amount, I post a video of myself dancing in a random place, or a video of another dancer if they send me their video,” said Harrigan, a lifelong Westfield resident, who works in regulatory affairs for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “I could not be enjoying this project more as I am able to dance everywhere, which I love, as well as bring awareness and fundraising to a cause I care about.”
As of this week, Harrigan, a graduate of Westfield High School and Boston College, had danced her way to raising nearly $2,000 in support of Century for the Cure, which donates proceeds to Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
“I’ve been reaching out to a lot of other dancers and people I know from Boston College,” she told TAPinto Westfield. “I’ve gotten a lot more support than I had expected.”
Harrigan posts her videos to Instagram, where she has established a page for her project: “Irish Dance for Cancer Research.” Many of her dances feature Westfield spots including Mindowaskin Park, Tamaques Park, Downtown Westfield, Roosevelt Intermediate School, the high school and even CVS.
Who takes the video? Sometimes, Harrigan said, she’ll just prop her phone up against a solid object, while at other times, Harrigan has recruited friends or people passing by to record for her.
“My friends have been very helpful with that. They’re always willing to videotape,” Harrigan said. “If I have to ask a random person, usually they’re usually just more confused than anything else, but then when I explain that its to raise money, they’re like ‘Oh, OK.’”
For one special donation, Harrigan’s video features her infant niece “dancing” to the Dropkick Murphys song “Shipping up to Boston.” In another video, Harrigan dons a cookie monster costume and dances in front of her home.
“I was at my house and I wasn’t going anywhere, so I was like I’ll just put on the Cookie Monster costume and dance somewhere,” Harrigan said.
To donate to the cause, visit Harrigan’s fundraising page here. To check out the videos, visit her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/irishdance_for_cancer_research.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh