Weekly Feature

2009-11-11 / Lifestyles

Dance for a Cure

Two teens organize citywide charitable high school dance

Danielle Shatkin Danielle Shatkin Doctors diagnosed Danielle Shatkin with juvenile diabetes at the age of 2.

Since her diagnosis, Shatkin, now a senior at Williamsville South High School, has devoted her life to raising funds and public awareness to face the disease head on.

“I’ve always been involved and trying to raise money,” said Shatkin. “It’s always been a huge part of my life.”

Seven years ago, Katie Ruh, a junior at Buffalo Seminary and resident of Orchard Park, began babysitting Liam Auricchio, who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was 3.

After seeing how fundraising helped Auricchio live with diabetes, Ruh organized a walk at Nativity of Our Lord School in Orchard Park with Team Liam.

Collectively, their efforts have helped raise $50,000 to end juvenile diabetes, which strikes more than 15,000 children every year.

Katie Ruh Katie Ruh When the Williamsville and Orchard Park girls realized they shared a common desire to fight juvenile diabetes, the two teamed up.

Together, Ruh and Shatkin have organized the Dance for a Cure High School Charity Ball, with all profits to be donated to the Western New York Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The citywide ball will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at Asbury Hall, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. The evening is semiformal attire.

Tickets cost $20 presale, or $30 at the door and are considered tax-deductible donations.

More than 500 students are expected to attend from Buffalo Seminary, Nichols School, Canisius High School, Nardin Academy, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, the Williamsville high schools and Orchard Park High School. All Western New York high school students are invited.

Ruh, who organized a team of 25 school representatives throughout the area, said getting the word out has been the most challenging aspect of the effort but also the most fun.

“It’s fun thinking of the creative ways to promote it,” said Ruh, who has used traditional and social media to gain attention to the ball.

After Ruh organized the walk at Nativity, she said she realized how easy and enjoyable it was to organize the event and to give back.

“When we got to high school, it seemed like a dance would get more people to go to raise more money,” said Ruh, who is most excited to see the turnout. They hope to attract more than 500 people.

The girls began organizing the event during the summer.

“First it was a little chaotic. It was hard to understand each other and what our goals were,” Shatkin said. “Once we met, it was a lot easier. Our experience has been great. It’s been very stress-free.”

Since August, they have booked the Buffalo Jills cheerleaders and other special guests for the ball.

“It’s been a team thing,” said Shatkin.

Autographed Buffalo Sabres merchandise and various prizes will be raffled off, and DJ Doug of Absolute Sound will provide musical entertainment all night.

“We ’ve all been in constant communication trying to figure out how to make this happen,” said Ruh.

With plans to pursue a business/ marketing degree in college, Ruh said she’s learned while organizing the ball the amount of work and time it takes to prepare for such an event.

Shatkin hopes to continue community service as she pursues college next year.

“If other high school kids can see that we can do this, then I hope they see that they can do this, too,” Ruh said.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was founded in 1970 by parents of children with Type I diabetes. Its mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.

The Western New York Chapter was founded a year later and has contributed more than $1.6 million toward diabetes research during 2007.

“I really hope for the best. I hope kids come out and realize this isn’t just a good time. It’s a good cause,” said Shatkin.

For more information, call the JDRF office at 833-2873 or visit www.jdrf.org.

e-mail: kjackson@beenews.com

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