ScotDance Canada raises $50,000 for Food Banks Canada and Kids Help Phone Canada

The Highland dance organization hosted a competitive fundraiser, shifting the focus from winning a trophy to helping a cause By Grace Wells-Smith
  • ScotDance Canada national dancers / Photo courtesy of ScotDance Canada

Exceeding its own expectations, ScotDance Canada raised $50,000 in one week to donate to Food Banks Canada and Kids Help Phone Canada.

ScotDance Canada is a national organization that oversees the “preservation and promotion of Scottish Highland dancing through competitions,” according to the organization’s website. The organization hosts the ScotDance Canada Championship Series, including the Canadian Championships.

But since their competitions were cancelled this summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company hosted an online competition on August 15, with teams competing to raise the most money instead of just a trophy.

“We want to show that we can give back and to show that our dancers understand that as well. That it’s just not about winning that trophy and that gold medal; they’re winning on behalf of these two charities,” said Cheryl Rafter, the president of ScotDance. “Valuable life lessons, you know?”

The organization’s goal was to raise $30,000 in twenty-four hours. Dancers from different provinces were divided into four teams, and the team to pledge the most money was declared the winner. Each team, with dancers ranging from age four through early thirties, submitted videos, and viewers then voted for the team they were going to support.

The organization received around 290 videos but could only put the first 100 videos submitted online. By the end of the twenty-four hours, the teams had raised more than $46,000 combined. The British Columbia/Manitoba team raised the most with $13,363.

ScotDance was so pleased with how much they raised in one day that they decided to leave the fundraiser open for the next week, until August 22 at 11:59 pm, and upped their goal to $50,000. They announced on Facebook Sunday that they met this goal.

Ashley Abrahart is a former Canadian interprovincial champion Highland dancer who participated in the fundraiser and sees the benefit in competing for a cause.

“It was really a different experience,” she said, “because you’re not thinking ‘this dancer has this, this dancer has that, and I need to accomplish those things in order to win.’” She noted that throughout her dancing career, she’s realized that winning is not what dancing is about, even though competition is a big part of Highland dance.

“For really young dancers, it’s a great opportunity to see what dance can do for other people, how it can help foster a sense of community and actually completely help people rather than just being in it for the medals or the trophy,” she said.

Since the fundraiser was such a success, Rafter said she is sure ScotDance will do it again, not only for the reasons stated above but also because it allowed dancers from all over the country to participate. “It’ll afford opportunities for dancers that weren’t [previously] available,” she said.

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