Roller skating and Dolly Parton music have come together to create United Way Vermillion’s annual Dolly Disco event.
For the last five years, United Way Vermillion has been hosting a Dolly Disco event for Dolly Parton’s birthday to raise money for Imagination Library. The fifth annual Dolly Disco event was held at the armory on Saturday for Parton’s 73rd birthday.
The Dolly Disco event included roller skating, Dolly Parton music, a photo booth and karaoke. There was also a free book giveaway, so each child could leave the event with a new book.
Kelsey Collier-Wise, director of United Way Vermillion, said she was inspired to hold a Dolly Disco event because of a friend who was doing the same thing in Duluth, Minn.
“It started because I had a friend who has been having a Dolly Parton-themed party for the last twenty years for Dolly’s birthday,” Collier-Wise said. “I always thought it was a great event and then when Bekki Enquist-Schroeder and I were talking about the Imagination Library Program, we thought this would be the perfect way to promote it. “
Collier-Wise and Bekki Enquist-Schroeder, the event’s organizer, have a shared love of Dolly Parton music. Enquist-Schroeder said creating this event was a great way to share that with others while also raising money for the Imagination Library.
“We were just talking randomly one day about how much we love Dolly Parton and how there’s roller skating at the armory and we should absolutely do a disco,” Enquist-Schroeder said. “That just snowballed into a fundraiser for the Imagination Library. And since Kelsey is the director for United Way, it was really easy to figure out how to do that. It’s grown every single year.”
Collier-Wise said since Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library in 1995, it spread across the country and ended up in Vermillion around 2002.
“Dolly Parton is a huge philanthropist,” Collier-Wise said. “One thing that’s really close to her heart is children’s literacy. Her father was illiterate and never learned to read and so she started this program in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, Ten. to give books to kids and it just spread.”
Collier-Wise said usually the Vermillion event sees around 100 people, even in the cold winter temperatures.
“It’s always warm in here, so we usually get a pretty good crowd,” Collier-Wise said. “Usually we make about $500 from the event. We do an online fundraiser as part of it too. It doesn’t cover everything, but every little bit counts. And mostly it’s about having fun.”
Ellie Pyles has been bringing her family to the Dolly Disco for the last five years and said they always look forward to it.
“We came to the inaugural Dolly Disco about five years ago, but we always try to come because Dolly Parton is awesome and who doesn’t like to listen to Dolly Parton music while they’re roller skating?” Pyles said. “To support the Imagination Library definitely is amazing work all over the country. Promoting children’s literacy is very important and so it’s a win-win situation.”
Pyles has two children, ages two and five that she brought to the event. She said her five-year-old son is just discovering his love of Dolly Parton.
“He doesn’t fully grasp the greatness of Dolly Parton but we’re getting there with the Dolly Disco,” Pyles said. “The kids love it and it’s my son’s first time on roller skates so he’s having a great time.”
Families usually return every year since the event has grown. Enquist-Schroeder said she loves to see these people come out every year to support the Imagination Library.
“My favorite part about the Dolly Disco, besides Dolly Parton, is the fact that it really truly gets free books into the hands of children in Clay County,” Enquist- Schroeder said. “It seems like everyone is really busy anymore, and we don’t always take time to sit down and read a book. So it’s important to support programs like this to make sure that we can get books in the hands of every child at no cost.”
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