The sounds of the piano filled the air of Akron Children’s atrium lobby when the Piano-a-thon took place recently to raise money for the hospital.
Elaine Thompson, a lifelong piano teacher from Bath, began the event in 2001. The first Piano-a-thon was held at Summit Mall and featured 17 of her students and was 3-1/2 hours long. The event soon outgrew the venue, and moved to Akron Children’s.
Throughout the years, as the event grew in popularity, she was approached by other piano teachers interested in participating. Last year, about 70 students were involved, and this year, that number doubled, with almost 150 students participating.
Though the event grows each year, it’s the returning pianists who keep Thompson motivated to continue the event.
“We couldn’t do it without the students,” Thompson said. “I guess that goes with our tagline, the ‘Kids Helping Kids’. They’re here to support kids just like them.”
The students select their own music and are told to choose as many songs as they would enjoy playing. There’s only one restriction – no Christmas music.
“I want to make sure the students play what they like,” Thompson said. “We try to avoid Christmas music; otherwise, we’d have Jingle Bells playing in the beginning of June.”
Students are encouraged to solicit sponsors for their performance to raise money for the hospital.
One hundred percent of the event’s proceeds benefit Akron Children’s. As of 2013, the event has raised more than $45,000.
There are still multiple mays to support the Piano-a-thon event. It was the event’s first year with a Facebook page, and Thompson hopes to see it grow in recognition. You can also donate online via credit card on the event’s website until the end of June.
When asked about the continued growth of the event, Thompson’s smile grew. “We’ll play as long as the hospital allows us,” she said.