Kappa Alpha Theta fundraiser reaches out to Walla Walla community

Patricia Vanderbilt

Credit: Faith Bernstein

Eleven dance groups made up of Whitman students as well as dancers from Walla Walla will showcase their talents at Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew, to be held at 7 p.m. in Cordiner Hall on Friday, March 2. The event is the newest evolution of the yearly Kappa Alpha Theta fundraiser Cakes for CASA. But this year, there will be no cakes.

“The cakes are gone, but there’s so many different crews and it’s going to be a really new experience,” said senior Rachel Tougher, who is organizing the event. “This time it’s a little bit more than that.”

The event is in Cordiner Hall for the first time and the number of dance crews has increased, but the biggest change to Theta’s annual event is signified by its new name.

“It’s now Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew because we are actively trying to advertise to the town as a whole, not just campus,” said sophomore Hanna Mosenthal, philanthropy chair for Kappa Alpha Theta.

Sophomore Shelley Stephan, the president of Kappa Alpha Theta, discussed the motivation behind expanding the scale of their yearly event.

Credit: Halley McCormick

“I think our main goal is to create a big event similar to Mr. Whitman in that we have a very known philanthropy on campus; so that we create a bigger outreach to the community, as well as on campus; so that people know what CASA is,” Stephan said. “By expanding it, also, it creates a signature event for people to look forward to and contribute to.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates, a national organization of volunteers, appointed by judges, who advocate for the safety of abused and neglected children. The CASA chapter they are fundraising for serves Walla Walla, so the Thetas want to raise awareness among community members with this year’s event.

“Research shows that children with a CASA are much less likely to languish in foster care, and we give directly to the Walla Walla Columbia County CASA chapter: we’re really their only major donor, so they couldn’t really do what they do without our support every year,” Mosenthal said.

Last year the Thetas raised $2,500 to $3,000 for CASA with Whitman’s Best Dance Crew; this year their goal is $5,000. Both Mosenthal and Tougher stressed that Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew is about raising awareness as well as funds.

“A lot of what they do relies on people knowing what they are and what they do and getting volunteers, because it is a volunteer-based organization,” Tougher said.

About half of the dance crews scheduled to compete are from Whitman, and half are from Walla Walla. The judges are made up of three Whitman professors and two community members: Greer Buchanan, who  is the  Coordinator for Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and a supporter of CASA with 22 years of Dance Experience,  and Chelsea Bonifer, the director of Red Pepper Dance Company. Judging is based on criteria such as choreography, synchronization and overall quality as well as fundraising.

At the end of the night, three dance crews will take home prizes: In addition to the grand prize and the judges’ choice, one group will be picked by the audience for the “people’s choice” award. There are also door prizes for the audience.

Tickets for Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew are available for $5 at noon in Reid Campus Center through Friday as well as at Book and Game on Main Street, and each ticket comes with a raffle ticket for a door prize. Tickets at the door are $7.

Credit: Halley McCormick