HALO Club Raises Awareness for Autism


Photo Courtesy by Marydith Macabale

Club leaders, Lindsay Backer, Megan Brooks, and Jordyn Apostalache (order left-right) await dancers to sign up to take master classes. All of the funds raised went to the HALO Dance 4 Autism Foundation.

On February 11, dancers from SJHHS’s dance program dedicated their Sunday afternoon to raising awareness for autism.

The HALO club, standing for Healing Autism through Learning and Opportunities, is a first year club at school. While it is a dance-based club, it is open to non-dancers who are eager to spread awareness about autism and raise money to donate to families dealing with autism.

Although this club is new to our campus, the club originated from the dance teacher at Corona del Mar High School in 2011 that has two autistic sons. Realizing how difficult and costly it is to provide the proper diagnosis and treatment for people dealing with autism, she started the HALO Dance 4 Autism Foundation and the roots have finally reached SJHHS.

Club President, Lindsay Backer, has been a part of the foundation for four years now, performing in their annual shows. Each year, the HALO Dance 4 Autism Foundation produces a show highlighting local dance companies associated with the foundation, as well as groups from HALO clubs at various high schools.

She explains how dance is kind of like a medicine for some of these kids and when you see them on stage, they just look so happy.

— Jordyn Apostalache

All of the participating dancers listen to the founder give a presentation of her story that is moving and motivational for the dancers. “It is insane to think about,” said the club’s vice president, Jordyn Apostolache. “She explains how dance is kind of like a medicine for some of these kids and when you see them on stage, they just look so happy.”

Being a first year club, the goal was to fundraise about $1,000 during the school year–not only has the club reached this number, they exceeded it in the first two months. With successful fundraisers throughout the year, including a GoFundMe account, a Nekter event, and the most recent one, master classes, the club is publicizing their name and cause.

As the club is dance-based, their most recent fundraiser consisted of four master classes. “We didn’t think we would be able to pull it off,” admitted Apostolache, “It’s hard to find teachers that want to teach for free.” They got some “no’s,” however, four teachers came through and they were able to put the fundraiser in action, spreading autism awareness through their passion.

They originally got inspiration to do this type of fundraiser from club secretary, Megan Brooks. The dance studio that she grew up at once did a fundraiser for one of her dance teacher’s mother who was diagnosed with cancer. “It raised a lot of money and it was a really big deal… [we] wanted to do something similar,” said Brooks.

The girls were nervous for the outcome of the fundraiser because not only was it their biggest one, but there was a lot of pressure. “It is our first actual fundraiser where people are actually coming to take class and we are bringing [dance teachers]—we don’t want to let anyone down,” said Backer.
At the fundraiser, many dancers came to take some or all of the classes offered. The club raised over $350.

As the club continues to grow, all three girls are really proud of their club’s influence and how it has impacted themselves. “There are people that I would have never met but then they joined my club,” said Backer. With SJHHS students from a variety of grades uniting for a common cause, our campus is making its mark on the community.