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Hope is alive. I wonder sometimes, especially after reading the news or listening to the constant babble of politicians playing their wicked, hateful games.

Monday, I found hope in a little town in New York State.

South Glen Falls, N.Y., is a town somewhat like ours. The difference might simply be that they are Yankees. We are not. Both towns are small, both know paper mills. Theirs has closed while ours, thankfully, powers on.

In both towns, people look after each other. When folks are having a rough patch, their friends and neighbors try to help out the best they can.

But, in South Glen Falls, the teenagers win the prize for helping out. They’ve been winning it for 36 years.

Back in 1978, the students at South Glen Falls High School started a marathon dance. They crowded the school gymnasium and danced for 24 hours. They took the money they raised and used it to help out families in need and local charities. Every year since, the students at South Glen High have rocked around the clock to raise money for their community.

This year the marathon raised $489,716.27, bringing the total for the past 36 years to $3.5 million. Wow.

For many, the highlight of the event isn’t the fun of the marathon, but the appearance on the final night of the families and charity representatives who are beneficiaries of the event. This year there were 40 including children and adults facing life threatening illnesses, a family facing the loss of everything in a fire and a local food pantry.

When I read about these kids being more grown up than anyone holding office in Washington right now, it brought tears to my eyes.

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They are smart enough to pick the important things to spend money on, money they’ve asked their community to give. They are smart enough not to fritter it away on something insignificant in the face of things more important. They understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than you.

They are diligent in respecting the traditions of their community and proudly carry them forward from one generation to the next.

Along the way, someone has taught them about responsibility and work ethic and getting things done. How else can 700 or so teens put together an event and raise almost half a million dollars, let alone the $3.5 million over the last 36 years? It isn’t luck.

And, while raising over $400,000 is a really big deal, the biggest payoff is the commitment to community it brings to the men, women and children of South Glen Falls. They love their town or this thing wouldn’t keep going on.

I only wish that the men and women in Washington felt the same way about their country, about their fellow citizens, the ones who sent them to do good works for the communities they represent.

I hope the folks in South Glen know how blessed they are.

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