Elin’s 12 hour Cha Cha Cha for County

Strictly stars train for hours to perfect their routines, but none have attempted dancing for 12 hours straight. So why did a 13-year-old take on the challenge?

Elin Young from Tilehurst began lockdown on a mission to raise money for her dance school, County Dance, which has attracted many youngsters from across the borough for its lessons for more than 60 years.

With her weekly lessons put on pause, the teenager was determined to use the time off to fundraise £200 for the school. Even if that meant doing the Cha Cha Cha for 12 hours. 

She said: “I came up with the idea to raise money for County Dance as I love the school and they really care about their dancers.

“As lockdown went on for longer we decided that the money I raised would go towards helping families affected by the pandemic return to classes when they start again.

“A lot of people have struggled during lockdown and I hated the idea of people having to give up their dance lessons because they can’t afford it.

“We spoke to County Dance and agreed that any money I raised could be put towards exams, competition fees and even dance shoes for those who need them.”

Since launching the fundraiser on gofundme.com Elin has received generous donations from friends, members of the school and even strangers.

An impressive 127 donations later and Elin has raised 13 times her target with a current total of £2,770 for the cause. 

The generous youngster said: “I never thought I would raise £200, let alone £2,000. I can’t believe how many people have donated.”

The danceathon took place in Elin’s kitchen on Saturday, July 11 where she was joined by a support team including her parents, grandparents and brother. 

Running from 9.30am to 9.30pm, the fundraiser was also watched by internet users via a Facebook Livestream featuring various guests throughout the day.

Elin, who dreams of becoming a dance world champion, said: “As I wasn’t able to dance with anyone in person, many people joined the Livestream. 

“Every time someone new came on it gave me an extra boost and reminded me why I was doing it.

“My two friends, who promised they would dance with me if I raised £800, also joined and I taught them how to Cha Cha Cha during the stream. 

“They don’t dance so it was amazing to have their support.”

But it wasn’t just friends who supported Elin during her challenge, Strictly Come Dancing stars Joanna Clifton, Ian Waite and Katya Jones were also among those cheering the young dancer on. 

Ms Young added: “There were times when I was tired and my hips were really hurting, but everyone’s support kept me going until the end.

“I’ve done competitions and rehearsals where I’ve danced for hours but this is the longest I’ve ever had to dance for without a break.

“Even when I was eating, I kept dancing.”

And one of the many people moved by Elin’s fundraiser, is mum Penny. 

She said: “I am immensely proud of Elin. 

“Three hours into the challenge I could tell she was in pain but she kept going with so much strength and did amazingly.

“The support she had was incredible and something she couldn’t have carried on without.”

Penny added: “We chose to do the fundraiser on the day this year’s Blackpool nationals were meant to take place.

“The cancelled dance lessons have been hard for all of the dancers and fragmented life in a way we hadn’t expected.

“County Dance are such a close knit group of people whose meet-ups have been stopped due to the pandemic, so being able to bring them together with the live stream was such a great feeling.

”They’re like a family and the support they gave Elin proved that.”

Principal at the dance school, Anna Dieguez added: “Here at County Dance we are so proud of Elin and her wonderful efforts to raise money for the pupils at our school. 

“Elin has such a passion for dance and wanting to ensure that her friends can all get back to dance is such a fabulous idea that we wanted to support her all the way. 

“The money she has raised will go towards helping anyone one who has been affected by the pandemic, supporting them with such things as tuition, purchasing dance wear and examination fees. 

“We are so thankful to have such wonderful pupils.”

At the end of the 12 hours, Elin described being on an adrenaline high before enjoying a well-deserved rest. 

She said: “Once I’d finished stretching I facetimed my best friends and then had a bath.

“My phone wouldn’t stop buzzing as so many people were texting me to say well done.

“I cried a lot of happy tears.”

To donate to Elin’s fundraiser which closes this Saturday, July 18 log on to bit.ly/2WfZn9x

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