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Mid-Valley tutu tradition ties in with Trot for Lila

Others love tutus, too.

A fundraiser and supportive after-school project for Lila May grew out of an existing tutu tradition at Mid Valley Elementary.

Fridays are “tutu Fridays” at the Odell school.

“I wear tutus with the kids, just to get them used to the idea of doing things together,” said Sarah Benson, an instructional assistant who teaches technology during the day and crochet, drawing, and other skills during the school’s vibrant after-school program. Each weekday after the final bell, kids stay in school to make art, read, exercise, and get homework help.

That and making tutus for Tutu Friday.

Then the staff, including Benson, read about Lila May and the Tutu Trot in the April 30 Hood River News.

“My husband, Eric, said ‘I’ll pledge $100 if you can get kids to walk in the Tutu Trot,’ and it just snowballed into this after-school tutu thing,” Benson said.

“We started last week, as soon as the paper came out, it just grew, huge,” Benson said.

Other teachers donated to the Tutu Trot fund, and gave money so Benson could buy more ribbon and the gossamer tulle fabric to make more tutus.

“That was fun to make it,” third-grader Guadalupe Montoya said.

Sixty kids — boys and girls — and adults got involved.

“We ran out and had to order more,” Benson said.

“The kids are learning about Lila, we’re telling them about this little girl who has cancer and it’s not very curable and it would be really nice if we did something for her, and quite a few of the kids had already heard her story,” she said. “I love that the kids are excited. I’ve got some kids who are going to come walk in the Tutu Trot with me.”

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Who would have seen it? Tulle finds a surprising ally in the tack.

Jocelyn Marquez, who wore her tutu Saturday, knows Lila May from the horse arena.

“My mom is her friend, they do the hair, and Lila has rode my horse, Misty, before.”

Then, asked how the tutus were made, third-grader Kirie Nesbitt said, “It’s just like you put on a horse halter on a fence. I can kind of show you.”

Kirie held a strip of tulle and demonstrated: “You put it like this, slide it through, put your hand through like this and pull it through, and there you go — like you put a horse halter on a fence.”

Teacher Sarah Benson smiled and said, “That’s a great way to describe it.”

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