Most Successful Teddi in History Raises $111K

Father Kevin Mannara, on stage at far left, leads the dancers in prayer.

Posted on 2/19/2020

By,  Kate Fitscher and Katie Ammann – Staff Writers

The 38th annual 24-hour Teddi Dance for Love in the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Athletic Center Friday and Saturday Feb. 14-15 raised over $100,000.

Starting at 8 p.m. Friday through 8 p.m. Saturday, the organization’s goal of raising $105,000 was crushed as a total of $111,267 was raised. This is the most successful Teddi in history. 

The donations collected will go to support Camp Good Days and Special Times, through the Fisher-based Teddi Project to help children and their families that are battling cancer. Most of the funds come from pledges raised by dancers, who each have a FirstGiving page, a place where anyone such as family or friends could donate any amount to support the cause. Basket raffles and silent auctions also were held during the event to contribute to the money raised. 

Hair donating was also offered, allowing students to receive a free haircut. The locks cut were then donated to the organization Locks of Love, which uses donated hair to make wigs for children who lose their own hair because of illness. 

Various times during Teddi are devoted to special music or dance styles. Here, students zumba during a designated time.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, the children of Camp Good Days came to visit. They were welcomed by the hundreds of student dancers supporting them. The children danced on stage, in front of all of the students attending Teddi. The final hours of the dance were dedicated to the children. There was a carnival, camp songs, and a balloon launch. At 8:30 p.m., the 38th annual Teddi Dance was completed with a closing ceremony. 

Originally founded in 1982, the Teddi Project has a mission to help children ever since. Students of St. John Fisher College have been proud to host Teddi Dance for Love for the past 38 years. Since the start of the Teddi Project, over $1 million has been raised. The majority of funds raised are from the annual Teddi Dance for Love, though the Teddi Project hosts many other events throughout the year. For more information, visit

Camp Good Days and Special Times is a not-for-profit organization designed to improve the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been affected by cancer or other life’s hardships. This organization was founded by Gary Mervis after his daughter Elizabeth “Teddi” Mervis had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of nine in 1979. He was fully confident that he could not stand alone, so instead, he decided to organize a camping experience that would allow kids to be just like any other kid, but with cancer.

Sophomore Mary Crowley was a member of the Spirit Team for the 2020 dance

When students are asked “Why do you ‘Teddi’?”, they often reply with “for the kids.” Mary Crowley, a sophomore on  the Teddi Spirit Team, said “It’s such a fun experience and is amazing to help kids live their childhood dreams.” 

Many students love the story behind Teddi, and as a result they join right away. “I joined Teddi as a first semester freshman,” Outreach captain Kaylee Wilcox said. “I originally joined this club because it was a Fisher thing, but in the end I stayed because of the kids.” 

It’s an overall fun experience that everyone must experience, she added. “Although it’s tough at times, seeing the kids is what gets me through it,” she said. “At two and three in the morning you may be doubting your decisions, but in the end it’s so worth it!”

Once they start, many students stick with the tradition during all four years they attend Fisher. Emily King spoke briefly about her first experience at Teddi. “My first experience was draining, and in the early hours of the night it was going by slow, but as soon as we saw the kids, the lack of sleep no longer mattered”. King wrapped everything up by saying “It was truly moving to see all the hard work we have done all year had come together to make this event a success.”

To keep the students entertained throughout the 24 hours, there were many different themes to the dance. Each hour, a new genre of music was played, such as “Boy Bands” and “Disney Classics.” Special performances also occurred, including Jazzercise with Priche Smith, an Irish Dance Club performance, a Womba Africa performance, and more. 

Students were encouraged to dance for the entire period of time, but were not forced to. There were lunch and dinner breaks over the course of both days. Some students even brought pillows and blankets to the gym for a brief nap. The only necessities for student dancers were a pair of shoes and plenty of coffee.


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