Teddi 42 Dances for Love, Dances for Maddie

February 11, 2024

For nearly 20 years, adjunct professor John Barthelmes and his wife, Kaitlyn, have provided balloon decorations for the annual Teddi Dance for Love at St. John Fisher University. In the early years, they would spend hours during the dance constructing huge balloon teddy bears. Today, they create the large, colorful balloon arches that float high above the dance floor.

Students watch a video about Teddi Dance dedicatee, Maddie.

Fisher’s longest running student-led tradition, the Teddi Dance for Love raises funds for Camp Good Days and Special Times. The committee raised $100,736.81 to support Camp’s Teddi Project, which sends a group of children on a week-long trip to amusement parks in Orlando, Florida. This is the sixth consecutive year that Teddi has raised more than $100,000, and this year pushes the total amount raised over $2 million in its history.

This year, when Fisher students took to the floor for the 24-hour dance marathon they did it in honor of John and Kaitlyn’s daughter, Maddie, who passed away in 2023 following a year-long fight with leukemia.

“We’ve been decorating at Teddi for years, and Maddie would come and help out; so this is very touching and special,” John said. “Maddie loved to dance. She would dance with the nurses, doctors, or anyone else that would dance with her. It’s so unbelievable to have a 24-hour dance-a-thon dedicated to our Maddie.”

While Maddie never had the chance to experience Camp Good Days, her little brother, Jackson attended Family Week with Kaitlyn during summer 2023.

“Camp Good Days doesn’t benefit just the kids with cancer, it benefits their families, too,” John said.

Grayce Trimboli ’25 and Emily Sullivan ’24 at the Teddi Dance for Love.

Led by Teddi Chair Emily Sullivan ’24 and Vice Chair Grayce Trimboli ’25, the Teddi Dance embraced its “Candyland” theme, with colorful decorations and a sweets and candy bar. On Saturday, more than 40 campers arrived for a carnival, complete with sweets, bounce houses, and other fun activities. Throughout the 24 hours, the dancers were cheered on and encouraged by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, who served as the honorary chair.

In addition to supporting Camp, students participated in a before and after reveal of the hair they will donate to Children With Hair Loss. The group collected 1,560 inches of hair for the organization, which provides human hair replacements at no cost to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss.