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Crowdfunding A Dancer's Dream

February 27, 2014, 10:10 PM by Angela Kennecke

Crowdfunding A Dancer's Dream

Fund raising usually means going door-to-door selling candy bars or wrapping paper; or a big event, like a dinner or auction. But online crowdfunding is changing that.

A local dancer is hoping it's the ticket to pursuing his dreams on the big stage.

16-year-old Brennan Benson has been perfecting his ballet techniques the last six years, five days a week for four to six hours a day. 

"I would love to become a principle dancer with a company, performing lead roles in big ballets; classical ballets especially and I'd love to eventually become a teacher," Dancer Brennan Benson said.

He's already teaching at the Dance Gallery in Sioux Falls, but his next step to launch his professional career is to attend an intensive summer training program at Ballet West in Utah.

"And they offered me a full merit tuition scholarship. Unfortunately the housing is separate from the summer intensive," Brennan Benson said.

So Brennan has turned to the crowdfunding website He's hoping to raise $5,000 dollars to cover his transportation, housing and other expenses. And after just a week, Brennan is on his way toward his goal.

"The money is huge because it gives him the chance to pursue his dreams, but it also just validates Brennan in that people care about what he's trying to do, Brennan's Mom Heather Benson said.

When you dig deeper into his story, it's easy to understand why. Benson had a nearly career-ending injury, when he was hit in the back of the head playing broom hockey.

"He lost his balance to the point where walking was a challenge," Heather Benson said.

At one point it didn't look like he'd dance again.

"Brennan was devastated by that news. Dance is everything to him," Heather Benson said.

His mom says it took sheer will and determination to get back to where he is today.

"He did not give up. He just kept going back to the studio. He would fall and fall and fall and he worked through it," Heather Benson said.

And now, all that hard work is paying off as people share his GoFundMe page on social media and donations, even from strangers, come in.

"I feel so blessed. I just can't think of any other word to use to describe this," Brennan Benson said.

And Brennan hopes to give all his donors a big return on their investment in him.

"I feel like this summer is going to give me that last final push I need to propel myself into a professional career," Brennan Benson said.

"I'm incredibly proud of him.  He's my hero," Heather Benson said.

GoFundMe takes an 8 percent cut from all money raised, including credit card fees. The website says it does vet every page on its site. And Brennan isn't the only Dance Gallery student using the site to raise money for intensive training. Peyton McKenna is also raising money for an intensive summer program.

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