5k Culver ‘Turkey Trot’ fund-raiser Nov. 29

Culver will be home to a five-kilometer “Turkey Trot” to help run off those Thanksgiving calories on Friday, November 29 – while raising funds for Confiance Dance towards a hoped-for dance studio in Culver.

As discussed in a previous article in The Culver Citizen, Culver Academies senior Meagan Rioux, who has been teaching dance classes for community children at the beach lodge twice each week, has organized the event on the north side of Culver.

Says Rioux, the run will be “fun…people can dress up and wear costumes (such as) Pilgrims, turkey, food,” and adds area kids will make “hand turkeys” to display at school during and after the race. There will be prizes awarded in such categories as the largest team, most funds raised, and top team spirit.

The race route will be marked with chalk and signs, and a golf cart will direct racers, she adds. Volunteers will handle security, with local emergency services posted.

Water stations will be set up, streets closed, and runners will gather in a heated area at the end.

The route starts in front of Culver Coffee Company on Lake Shore Drive and travel northeast, turning right onto Academy Road.

Registration starts at 7 a.m. with the race beginning at 8:30 a.m. At 9 a.m., a costume contest is scheduled, and a one-mile kids’ “gobble wobble” will start at 9:30 a.m. Awards will be announced at 10 a.m.

Registration can be done both online and before the race. Registration is $10 along with any donation one would like to contribute.

Participants can register at http://confiancedance.com or http://www.racesonline.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=public.race_detail&race_....

All Proceeds will go towards the opening of a dance studio/Performing Arts Center. This event will be annual and all profits from the event will be decided by the town of Culver, says Rioux.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the event may contact Rioux at meaganrioux@confiancedance.com.

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STUDENT HOPES TO START STUDIO, CHANGE CULVER LIVES THROUGH DANCE

Dance changed Culver Academies senior Meagan Rioux's life during a challenging time, and she hopes to carry its transformative power -- and that of the arts in general -- to the Culver community at large.

With that in mind, she's not only teaching a well-received series of free dance classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Culver's beach lodge, but hoping to generate enough funds and support to open a dance and fine arts studio in the town of Culver, to serve the entire community.

Rioux, who has been dancing since age three, recalls the circumstances of an epiphany she had regarding the power of dance to transform lives. Two summers ago, Rioux's mother lost her job and the family found itself job-hunting in Florida (far from Meagan's home town of Granville, Ohio). Rioux frequented a YMCA in the Sunshine State to utilize its dance studio. While there one day, she noticed two young girls watching her dance with intense interest.

"So I asked if I could dance with them," she recalls. She could, and she recalls the program that followed as "one of the best experiences of my life. I see the happiness dance gives me...every moment up `til then had led me there -- the hardships with my mom, it made it all worthwhile."

The experience also made Rioux realize, she told members of Culver's town council at its Oct. 22 meeting, that teaching dance -- especially to children who otherwise couldn't afford classes, or whose parents might be too busy to take them to classes -- was something "I wanted to do the rest of my life."

Her passion turned into a senior service project last year at the Culver Boys & Girls Club, where she taught dance to youngsters last spring.

Rioux, a part of Culver Academies' dance program, started teaching classes at the beach lodge two months ago, and plans to continue doing so the rest of the school year, and she hopes to set up a replacement so the offering can continue next year. Classes are offered to children from kindergarten into 6th grade, regardless of gender.

"I teach the basics (of dance)," she explains. "I make sure it's fun."
Rioux says she tries to teach life lessons through dance, including self-respect, being more in touch with one's body and health, and collaboration and teamwork.

"Dance is more than just movement," she adds.

Rioux says she's "so grateful for the space," and adds that both Culver park programming director Dona Mckee and town manager Dave Schoeff "have been really helpful in the progress of this program at Culver."

And in case you're wondering, Rioux has already filed paperwork towards non-profit status for her dance endeavor, which she hopes to expand to other areas of Indiana as part of a career in dance.

Rioux's hopes of creating a long-term dance and fine arts studio in Culver, she says, could get their start with the Nov. 29 "Turkey Trot" 5k run she's planning in Culver. At $10 per person, the event would be the first of many avenues of raising dollars towards her vision.

Participants are encouraged to consider wearing costumes (for which there will be a prize at the end of the event), and registration will be at 7:30 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving (which allows runners and walkers to work off some of those "turkey day" calories), with the event itself starting at 8:30 a.m.

She says more information on the event is forthcoming, but in the meantime she's excited to see it come together.