The Heights High School dance team is in high spirits once again after a tumultuous week in which missing money threatened to cancel its trip to Disney World.
Earlier this year, the Heights Redcoats accepted an offer to travel to Orlando over Spring Break for a weeklong master dance class. They held fundraising events throughout the school year and made payments totaling $90,000.
Then, earlier this week, the $15,000 earmarked for their final payment reportedly went missing. But the community came together, raising more than that amount through a GoFundMe account set up by a Redcoat parent, to allow the team’s 62 dancers to make their trip.
“I feel so grateful, and I was just so surprised that so many people came out to help these girls,” said Maria Barron, president of the Redcoats Booster Club. “It was people who graduated from here, some who used to be Redcoats themselves, and so many others. The girls’ parents are so grateful they helped out.”
According to Houston Police Department spokesperson John Cannon, officers were called to the campus at 413 E. 13th St. on Wednesday morning, in conjunction with Houston ISD police, to respond to a report that funds had been stolen from the group.
Barron said the club’s treasurer may have been involved in the money going missing as the treasurer was the only person with authorization to access the account, and that nobody from the organization could reach her after the money went missing.
Police have so far been unable to reach the treasurer, and no official charges have yet been filed.
“A parent-led organization which supports Heights High School recently discovered that funds from the organization’s bank account were missing. The money was raised for an out-of-town trip to benefit HISD students,” HISD said in a statement. “The district understands that the parent group has filed a report with the Houston Police Department and will continue to monitor the situation.”
If the funds were not paid by the end of this week, the group would have lost out on the opportunity as well as the money it already paid for the trip. But the Heights community did not let the team’s hard work go to waste.
After finding out about the missing money, community member and Redcoat parent Matt Jozwiak set up the GoFundMe page that was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook. In just two days, 172 people combined to donate $16,145 toward the trip.
Barron and the dancers, on the heels of winning Ascension Dance’s Grand Champion Team honor the previous weekend, were blown away by the support. Now, after one final competition this weekend, the Redcoats can set their sights on Disney World.
“They were devastated when they found out the money was missing, but now they’re so grateful to everyone for helping them out so they can go,” Barron said.