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Darien Kids Groove For A Good Cause

Tokeneke kids sing and dance along to "YMCA" at the Groove-a-thon event Monday. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
The students got a couple conga lines started as they danced to raise money for the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Tokeneke kids break it down for "Harlem Shake." Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Most of the 165 kids in attendance, along with Obie Harrington-Howes Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Darien kids rock out during the Groove-a-thon. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. -- Students at Tokeneke Elementary School in Darien danced their hearts out Monday afternoon while raising more than $4,000 to help people with spinal cord injuries.

The annual Groove-a-thon fundraiser was hosted by the school's Kids Care Club to raise money for the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation . The kids collected donations and then celebrated by dancing out on the playground for an hour. The students were all smiles and cheered in excitement as their favorite music played, and were happy to get a chance to raise money for a good cause.

"Kids Care is all about getting kids to help other people," said Juliet Johnson, a fifth grader and a member of Kids Care. She said the students collect money or work on projects that will benefit community organizations.

They also learn about the causes they are raising money for. Before the Groove-a-thon, the students were visited by Obie Harrington-Howes, who started his foundation after being paralyzed in a swimming accident in 1997. He helped them learn about living with a disability, and the work that the foundation does to help people. He inspired the kids to raise $4,235 for the organization, and the enthusiasm of the students inspired him as well.

"These kids are amazing," he said. "It's not just the money, it's the awareness. It's an incredible program teaching kids about philanthropy and caring about their community. It's very powerful and gets people at a young age thinking about important issues."

Suzy Zaino, one of the parent organizers of the Kids Care Club, said the club meets about once a month and has around 100 members from all grade levels. They've also collected money and supplies for the PAWS shelter in Norwalk, for the Inspirica shelter in Stamford, collected toys during the holidays, and supported other causes.

"It's a wonderful way to expose the kids to how some people live differently," said Zaino. The Groove-a-thon also aims to get kids moving for an hour because many people with spinal cord injuries can't dance themselves.

"It gives the students an opportunity to raise money for a good fund. The kids look forward to this day all year," said Principal Mary Michelson.

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