Central's Charity Week heartfelt

Dance-a-thon to benefit Lurie Children’s Hospital

CRYSTAL LAKE – Two young people with direct ties to Crystal Lake Central High School have inspired students and staff to raise money for a Chicago children’s hospital.

A former student’s second heart transplant surgery and the ongoing struggles of a boy born with congenital heart defects are serving as the backbone of an effort to raise $5,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital and its pediatric heart center.

The fundraiser, which is the focus of Charity Week, culminates Saturday with dance-athon at the high school. Called “Keep the Beat Going,” it’s billed as a dance for those who can’t right now.

“We usually do a dance, and so this year we’re having a dance-a-thon to prolong the idea of dancing for the heart,” said Brant Cohen, a junior and student council executive secretary. “We’re dancing for kids who can’t.”

The dance-a-thon will be in the field house. Students will dance in 10-person teams for four hours with each student donating $10. The students also placed fliers in the community that contain a QR code for people to donate through their smartphones.

The theme for the annual Charity Week was the brainchild of a guidance counselor and a vice principal – Tamara Jazwinski and Eric Ernd.

The Jazwinski family found out less than 24 hours after the birth of their son, Matthew, that he had four heart defects. The 10-year-old has undergone three heart surgeries and has a pacemaker. He is a student at Deer Path School in Cary and a lover of music. He showed off his bass guitar skills during a Charity Week kick-off assembly Wednesday at Central.

“His heart doesn’t have it’s own natural rhythm, so he makes it through his music,” Tamara Jazwinski said. “Even though some students are not directly involved with these issues, they are now because of this effort.”

The choice to raise funds for Lurie Children’s Hospital is because Matthew has been a patient there.

So was 20-year-old Colleen Gleason, a former Central student who recently returned home after heart transplant surgery at the children’s hospital.

“When she was at Central her dream was to always have some type of function for pediatric heart causes,” Jazwinski said. “We were never able to coordinate it while she was here. This was perfect timing.”

In preparation for charity week and the dance-a-thon, the student council executive board created a promotional video and posted it on YouTube and the school’s website – The video features students and staff dancing and opens with Gleason and her doctor introducing “Keep the Beat Going” from her hospital bed shortly before her second transplant.

“This is a great way to get everyone moving instead of a formal dance that can be more intimidating,” said Kristina Bevill, a senior and student council president. “Students and staff are now able to connect to this issue and see that it affects not just random people, but people in the community.”

Throughout the week, area restaurants such as Jersey Mike’s, Culver’s and Potbelly also are donating a portion of their profits to the effort.

• Reporter Jim Dallke contributed to this report

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