Rocket City Microthon Raises over $15K for Merrimack Hall


Hundreds showed up at Campus 805 Sunday afternoon for the first ever Rocket City Microthon– a mini race.. with a big purpose: helping those with special needs express themselves through the arts.

More than $15,000 was raised to support of students at Merrimack Hall, which is dedicated completely to art education for children and adults with special needs.

The 0.12 race started next to Straight to Ale and ended across the lawn at Yellowhammer Brewery— a not so strenuous— total of 383 feet.

The race was Lesley Burnette’s and her husband, Darryl’s idea. 

“We have a daughter, Kate Burnette, who passed away two years ago at age 15,” said Lesley.

Her daughter was part of a special needs dance class at Merrimack Hall. 

“She really appreciated being able to be on stage and have people clap for her and the accomplishment of learning steps and doing them. People with special needs are exactly the same as the rest of us,” Lesley explained. “They have an inner creativity that they want to express.”

The Merrimack Happy Performers expressed their creativity by showing off their dance moves.

“We’re doing dancing tonight,” said Laura Beth, a Merrimack student. “It’s our passion.”

“We go out there to the audience and show them what we can do,” said Carolyn, another Merrimack student who performed.

Carolyn summed up how she felt while dancing. “It feels happy,” she said. “Makes me happy.”

Carolyn credits those at Merrimack for helping bring this dance to life at the event. “All those people I work with — I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.

As runners crossed the finish line, Merrimack Hall students signed their names on the runner’s race bibs and handed out bottle openers.

Along with dance classes, at Merrimack Hall, children and adults with special needs can take drama, creative writing, yoga, and day classes.

Click here to hear more of Lesley’s story about why it was meaningful for her daughter Kate to express herself through the arts.

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