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The Dance for the Cure Story

Updated: Mar 28

The text below is the narration for our Dance for the Cure video, telling a story of friendship, courage, and community coming together for a great cause, capturing the spirit of Dance for the Cure's journey.


In 1998, Kathleen Cirioli, owner of a local dance studio, faced a diagnosis that would challenge, shape, and ultimately inspire her future path. Alongside her friend Joanne Liscovitz, a successful Realtor and a tap instructor at the studio, a plan took form, turning adversity into advocacy.

With dance as their medium, they created an original awareness program with Kathleen’s personal breast cancer journey at its heart. Enriched by Dr. Debbie Beiter's informative talk on medical treatments and prevention of breast cancer, the program included dance performances such as the poignant "I Believe" lyrical dance and the spirited "Go and Get Your Mammogram" tap dance, which became synonymous with their message. The impact was undeniable, resonating from local churches to hospitals and eventually catching the spotlight on the Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1999.

As their platform grew, so did their vision. They recognized that awareness, while vital, was only one facet of the battle with breast cancer. Many women were also grappling with financial strains brought on by the disease. So, by the year 2000, Dance for the Cure was incorporated as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charity able to receive donations, and in 2006, Ribbons of Hope, the organization’s annual fundraiser, was born.

The early Ribbons of Hope events were reminiscent of a close-knit community gathering with food, vendors and the standout attraction—the basket raffle. Over time, the baskets' popularity gave rise to "Basket Central," evolving from a volunteer's basement to a bustling warehouse. A passionate team of volunteers, known as the "Basket Genies," now craft over 200 baskets every year, turning the raffle into an event’s highlight.

But they didn't stop there. In 2016, Joanne spearheaded “Tie the Town Pink.” What began as a local initiative in Hillsborough, draping the town in vibrant pink during October, burgeoned into a widespread awareness movement. From its modest roots, it now encompasses 31 New Jersey towns, painting communities in hues of hope.

In tandem, 2018 saw Kathleen leading the “Pink Bow Project.” In the waning days of September and dawn of October, a brigade of volunteers festoons local businesses across Hillsborough and Flemington with large, symbolic pink bows. In 2023, these bows have become a prominent fixture, with around 400 of them adorning the landscapes of downtown areas, and come 2024, businesses in Raritan will also be embellished in pink!

Over the years, Dance for the Cure’s community impact has grown both in depth and breadth. 2023 was particularly momentous, with funds gifted surpassing one million dollars. They have helped hundreds of breast cancer patients in need across Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset counties. And with plans to include Mercer County in 2024, their impact promises to reach even further. Dance for the Cure is unique among charities in that it is fully volunteer-run with no one drawing a salary.


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