By Alyssa Schnugg
An upcoming dance competition between the University of Mississippi sororities is about more than which chapter has the best moves.
For the last few years, the UM Panhellenic Executive Council’s annual philanthropy event, the CASA Encore, has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to CASA of Lafayette County.
Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, is a nonprofit organization of trained volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children.
CASA Encore will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
All sororities will compete in the dance competition and proceeds from ticket sales will go to CASA.
“Supporting CASA of Lafayette County is so important to the Panhellenic Executive Council because we get to help abused and neglected children be advocated for,” said Madeleine Zacks, Panhellenic Council vice president of philanthropy. “Our women look forward to it each year because it is so fun.”
Zacks performed in the 2018 Encore competition when she was a freshman at Ole Miss.
“I’ve been passionate about helping CASA of Lafayette County ever since,” she said.
Prior to the dance competition, chapter members and other community members raise money and donate to CASA of Lafayette County on the 2021 CASA Encore CrowdChange website.
All 10 sorority chapters will perform a choreographed, themed dance routine that lasts 5 to 7 minutes.
“Over 100 girls from each chapter will be on the stage dancing,” Zacks said. “From cheer tumbling to ballet spins, our women pull off the most impressive tricks.”
Due to COVID-19, the annual fundraiser was canceled in 2020; however, the event raised $120,000 in 2019.
Erin Smith, executive director of CASA of Lafayette County said the fundraiser couldn’t have come at a better time since some of the federal grants CASA relies on have been decreased.
“This event and the money raised has such a huge impact on the abused and neglected children in our community,” Smith said. “We are grateful to Ole Miss Panhellenic for taking on this event in 2019, and also to all the sororities that participate and raise so much money. It not only raises funds for CASA but also raises awareness about child abuse and neglect happening all around us.”
The Panhellenic Council is also hosting a blood drive from Sept. 20-22 outside of Croft Hall.