GROTON — The Michaud family loves to dance. Derek, Sarahjean and their two children, Harper and Arlen, hold dance parties in their living room just for the fun of it. Even in the worst of situations, the Michauds find a way to work in some upbeat dance moves.
That’s exactly what Derek did when he came up with the Dance It Out Challenge.
In May 2017, weeks after his 43rd birthday, Derek was diagnosed with ALS. The neurological disease causes muscle weakness and impacts the body’s physical function. Derek is currently paralyzed from the neck down and under 24-hour home care, costing his family over $11,000 a month out-of-pocket.
Despite the diagnosis, Derek and his family have been soldiering on with life.
So much so that he ended up posting a video of his kids dancing on New Year’s Eve to Facebook and their blog, standblu.com. The video touched the hearts of many, leading Derek to come up with the Dance It Out Challenge.
Inspired by the Ice Bucket Challenge, another viral fundraiser for the ALS Association that started back in 2014, the Dance It Out Challenge involves someone filming themselves dancing to Madonna’s “Get Into the Groove,” a personal pick of Derek’s.
The challenge then involves posting the video to social media with the caption, “I challenge (person’s name) to either DANCE or DONATE within the next 24 hours. Please challenge 5 people to Dance It Out for ALS and Get Down for Derek!”
Since first starting the challenge, the groove has been shared by attendees at a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game, students and staff at the Oak Meadow School in Littleton and staff at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Thanks to the challenge, Derek’s GoFundMe page has raised over $20,000 of its intended $80,000 goal. The money will go toward paying for Derek’s home medical care.
“We started the challenge as a way to bring smiles to Derek and do something special in his name to raise awareness for ALS and help to cover his care,” says Derek’s wife, Sarahjean, owner of Well-Being Acupuncture in Groton. “We are simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity and good will this Challenge has generated so far.”
The family will get additional help from the community at the Derek Michaud 2nd Annual ALS Fundraiser on August 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Chelmsford’s Elks Lodge, 300 Littleton Road, Chelmsford.
Tickets are $50 for adults and $10 for children. The event features entertainment by pianist and vocalist Yvonne Aubert and comic hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. There will also be dancing with DJ Wyatt, catered food, refreshments and raffles.
Tickets are available at the door, or in advance at: eventbrite .com/e/2nd-annual-derek-michaud-als-fundraiser-tickets-64944550900.
Jon Winkler: MrJW595 on Twitter