If you’ve been on Beechmont Ave. lately, you likely passed a young man dancing with a “Mattress Sale” sign. This isn’t just any young man, though. His name is Cody Crothers and he’s now becoming known nationwide as the “Beechmont Dancing Man.”
Crothers was accepted to Ohio State University last year, but later learned that he couldn’t afford to go. To save money, he began working for Beechmont Ave.-based Mattress Solutions, dancing on a street corner 40 hours a week. In heat and cold, wind and rain, sleet and snow, Crothers danced like no one was watching.
Turns out, people actually were watching. While some noticed his mattress sale advertisement, an overwhelming majority of passersby instead noticed his enthusiasm and dedication.
One of those who noticed was Danielle Toft. She had recently found out she would be losing her job at a local non-profit organization and decided to use her newfound free time to take on a new project.
Toft first saw Cody dancing on the side of the road after meeting a friend for coffee at the Cherry Grove Starbucks. “I didn’t have any idea what the sign said but I noticed that he was really dancing,” she recalls. “I mean, he had such endurance I stayed and watched him for a while. It sounds weird, but I took a picture and posted it on Facebook.”
Every time she went back to Beechmont, Toft couldn’t wait to see the “Dancing Man.” Her friends would even send texts telling her when they spotted him, too. One friend in particular, Lisa Connelly, who enjoyed catching Crothers’ dance moves as well, mentioned to Toft that he was always outside working, regardless of weather conditions. “I even drove by one rainy day and his pants were muddy, but he continued to dance ,” she says.
Toft and Connelly decided to co-found the Beechmont Dancing Man Facebook Page on December 15 to amass an online following for the young man. They posted pictures and shared it with friends to garner some attention. Overnight, the page grew to more than 400 “likes” and fans left comments about how there was “something magnetic” about Crothers. Today, just one month after starting the page, it has more than 6,300 fans.
A new fan of the page, Sue, who is also a local Zumba instructor, suggested doing a Flash Mob so they could dance with him and attract media attention. “So, on December 29, on a cold and rainy day, we had a Flash Mob right where Cody dances,” Toft says. “Sue and 100 other amazing fans danced out hearts out and surprised Cody.”
That’s when they asked more about him and learned of Crothers’ struggle to afford college. His fans immediately took up a collection and gave him “Dancing Tips” for college. Everyone who attended the Flash Mob felt something magical and people continued to talk about how inspiring they felt afterward.
|Crothers’ and his fans outside Mattress Solutions.|
Thousands of people shared and re-shared the video that surfaced after the Flash Mob. Then, a producer from “Right this Minute” contacted the Facebook Page to do an interview. Once the video went viral, people and media from across the nation, including the Huffington Post, began contacting the page to inquire about the “Dancing Man.” His family set up a PayPal account and within days received enough donations to cover the cost of a semester and books at the Ohio State University.
Toft says the whole experience has been an eye opener for her and it’s restoring her faith in humanity. “It has been so cool to see this unfolding and see all the positivity,” she adds. Toft reminds Crothers that the whole movement has been because of him and because people love to be inspired.
“When Lisa and I met him for coffee afterward, we laughed and talked to him about how taken aback he was about the Flash Mob,” Toft says. “We both realized how grateful and centered and humble he was.”
Toft believes Crothers is the poster child of the positivity — despite his circumstances — that people want to see in this world. “I think that sometimes people get overwhelmed with the negativity of the news and the horrible stuff out in the world and it was nice for everyone to feel good, have fun and honor a guy who was working hard for months and months in all conditions rain or shine that genuinely looked like he was having a blast doing his job,” she says. “It seems like he was this amazing force that nothing could shatter.”
Another dream for Crothers is that he would get to dance on stage with Ellen, so the group has been tweeting her and sending her letters hoping she’ll take notice.
In addition, Mattress Solutions was inspired by the fundraising movement, and is now donating $25 to Crothers’ college fund for every mattress purchased from now until January 31. Just mention “Beechmont Dancing Man” when you visit their location in the Cherry Grove Shopping Center at 8 Ohio Pike in Cincinnati. You can also donate to his PayPal account by clicking here.
Aside from the Beechmont Dancing Man Facebook Page, Toft recently launched another page called Spreading Love and Positive Vibes in Cincy, a page created to give a platform to even more special people and actions all over the Tri-State. “This page inspires people to post random acts of kindness all over town,” Toft explains.