Katie Lunn’s dance legacy continues

Thanks to her family and friends, Katie Lunn continues to bring smiles to young people’s faces even after her death.

A dance workshop called “Spread the Smile: A day of dance to connect the world one smile at a time,” will be held Saturday at Decker Auditorium. The session for 2- to 7-year-olds is from 10 to 11 a.m., with ages 8 and up meeting at 1 p.m.

The workshop is offered by the Katie Lunn Memorial Fund, created in memory of the 26-year-old woman who was killed April 16, 2010, in a car-train accident in Chicago. She was the daughter of Julie and Jerry Lunn, of Manson.

Katie Lunn believed dance can lift spirits, said Julie Lunn, and the event will embody her positive attitude and joy in life.

“It’s fun to see the kids,” Julie Lunn said. “Katie was so – she had this infectious smile, and to see all those kids up there, she would definitely be smiling.

“That was her passion, she loved teaching the kids.”

Cassidy Vermeer, Dance Teams coach at Iowa Central Community College, said Lunn’s smile was memorable.

“Everyone always remembers her from her beautiful smile,” said Vermeer. “No matter what the situation, she always found the light of positivity.

“This is for any age level, any difficulty level. It’s open to anybody who just loves to dance. Katie didn’t care if you were an all-star or a beginner. She just loved sharing her passion of dance with everybody.”

The event was held once before in Fort Dodge, in 2011, Julie Lunn said.

Katie Lunn taught at a performing arts school in Chicago, where a benefit has been held every year.

“The parents all joined together, and they do a huge benefit for her,” said Julie Lunn. “They took urban and suburban kids and grouped them together. We had about 100 the first year. The second year there was 150, and this year there was 192. So it’s just growing.”

The Fort Dodge event will feature two instructors who danced with Katie Lunn in Chicago, said Julie Lunn. Vermeer will teach the younger kids.

“I’m going to keep it fun, kind of hip-hop jazz,” she said.

Registration for 2- to 7-year-olds begins at 9 a.m., said Julie Lunn. Registration for older kids will begin at noon. All kids will get a free T-shirt.

Vermeer said it was an honor to be one of the instructors. She and Katie Lunn were good friends who grew up dancing together at the Hollingsworth School of Dance and Gymnastics.

“She was a few years older than me, so I really looked up to her as a younger dancer. She was my role model, and we got to be really close,” said Vermeer. “She was like family to me.”

“Spread the Smile” and the Chicago events are run by the Katie Lunn Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships for people pursuing a dance field or a performing arts field.

“This year we gave out an Iowa Central Community College scholarship to the dance program. We did Fort Dodge Senior High, because Katie went to Senior High,” Julie Lunn said.

There’s also a peer-nominated contest, where scholarships awarded in a ceremony at Willow Ridge.

“Whatever we raise, we try to give back,” Lunn said.