SCARBOROUGH — “This is where the end of cancer begins,” proclaims the slogan of the charitable organization Stand Up To Cancer.
And by the end of the charity’s first celebrity-packed telethon broadcast on three major networks last September, Scarborough High School junior Teal Dibiase knew it would be the beginning of something important in her world.
“The cause was touching,” she said. “We have a lot of talent in our school. I thought, if those people can do it, we can do it.”
Dibiase immediately began to assemble a small cast for a local “stand up” event to raise money for the national organization.
Since October, Dibiase and seniors Brittany Blake, Zoe Rice and Sasha Kennedy; juniors Natalie Pauwels and Liz Starbird, and freshman Mariah Volk have been practicing the dance routines and songs weekly.
School librarian Joyce Wheeler, the faculty advisor for their event, insists the girls “have pretty much done it on their own.”
“(Dibiase) has taken the lead, but if other people have suggestions she listens to them,” Wheeler said.
Some of the time, they even take Wheeler’s advice, the girls joked.
The cast will sing two songs, “I Hope You’ll Dance” and “Stand Up To Cancer;” perform an interpretive dance, and liven things up with a stomp. Dibiase has choreographed all the numbers, drawing on self-taught skills she hopes to develop into a career.
“I’m kind of like Shakira – I teach myself everything,” she said. “And I like to teach others – I want to be a dance choreographer.”
Though Dibiase may be the leader, the other girls appear to gain confidence from her instruction and enthusiasm.
“I have a phobia singing in public,” Pauwels said. “I … beat myself up, but Teal showed me I could do it.”
In addition to their performances, the event will feature testimonies from cancer survivors, a video presentation and information from South Portland’s Cancer Community Center.
Most of the performers said they know someone who has been touched by cancer, making the cause more urgent and personal to them. But all of them agree the benefit is a good way to use their talents for good.
“(Before working on the show,) I didn’t pay attention to how much it impacted people. It’s everywhere,” Starbird said.
As the girls strive to inspire others to keep a positive attitude even while battling cancer, they agreed they are inspiring themselves and each other to be positive, involved and supportive. And they are gratified by the feeling that their efforts are making a difference.
“It’s different from just giving money because it’s been a lot of work,” Rice said. “Giving money isn’t something you remember. This we will remember.”
Scarborough High School students putting on a benefit to raise money for cancer research through the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s charitable organization, Just Stand Up To Cancer, are, clockwise from left, Mariah Volk, Natalie Pauwels, Teal Dibiase, Brittany Blake, Zoe Rice and Liz Starbird. Sasha Kennedy is missing. (Robers photo)