For more than a decade, USF’s Dance Marathon has always kept its mission statement of “for the kids” in mind.
This year, the event organized by Bulls for Kids (BFK) will bring 1,000 students and others from the Tampa community together to raise money for Shriners Hospital for Children, with a goal to reach $200,000 in donations by the end of the event.
Shriners Hospital for Children will receive the donation from the event for the second consecutive year. According to Zoe Lewis, BFK vice chair of events, the hospital will also be the benefactor for the next years of BFK.
Before this decision was made, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital at St. Petersburg was the benefitting organization.
The main criteria for the change was the proximity to campus. With an on-campus hospital, students and groups involved can see the impact of the money that they’re raising and get more involved with the cause, according to Lewis.
“We hope to keep reaching out to different populations of students and that this marathon is the one that future years can build from,” Lewis said. “Being a part of this program allows you to help someone other than yourself and use your resources to better someone else’s life.”
According to Ryan Blew, BFK board chair, choosing an organization closer to campus gives students the opportunity to see the impact and how it is benefiting families around the community.
“We are excited to fundraise for Shriners Hospitals for Children because of its location of being right on campus,” Blew said. “Students can schedule tours with us to get them inside the hospital to see where the magic happens.”
The event will take place on March 2, from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. It will be hosted on the second and part of the third floor at the Marshall Student Center (MSC).
This year, BFK is no longer doing fundraising amount updates throughout the year as a way to surprise everyone involved once the final total is revealed. The total amount raised will be announced at the end of the Dance Marathon, at 10:45 p.m. in the MSC Ballroom.
As of December, BFK raised $75,000 from all the events that took place during the fall semester.
Last year, BFK raised $175,000 and had around 600 dancers participating, including USF students, alumni and other groups from the Tampa community. On the day of the event alone, BFK raised a total of $12,000 during Dance Marathon.
This year, BFK hopes to raise $30,000 during the Dance Marathon, according to Blew.
The money raised throughout this year will be used to fund the Motion Analysis Lab — motion capture cameras that monitor the movement of the patient’s lower body — which will help kids with special conditions receive the proper treatment.
“They (Shriners Hospital for Children) are over $200,000 away from being able to purchase it, so we hope to fundraise the rest for them,” Blew said.
According to the event’s registration page, BFK has raised over $700,000 in its 15 years at USF.
This year, the event will count with 1,000 participants. According to Blew, this year’s theme will be “Around the World” in 12 hours, where it will showcase USF’s diversity and how participants have a big impact in the world.
“The theme will be represented in almost every room,” Blew said. “In the ballroom, student organizations can reach out to us to teach a dance from their culture or to perform, we will have a stroll call and the escape room will also include our theme.”
Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine said that supporting Dance Marathon can allow this program and the families who it supports to continue to grow in influence and impact.
“Bulls for Kids at USF represents a fundamental opportunity for students in our community to directly begin to make a positive impact in the lives of others and more specifically, the lives of children who need it the most,” said Kheireddine.
The main rule during the event is to remain standing throughout the whole 12 hours. If a participant does not want to dance, other entertainment options will be provided including open mic, games, an escape room, an inspiration room to learn more about the families benefiting from the event and arts and crafts.
Dance Marathon is a nationwide movement that fundraises millions of dollars every year across multiple college campuses in the U.S. The event was brought to USF in 2005, with only 300 participants and 5 hours of duration.
Now, BFK is the largest student-run philanthropy at USF, organizing events all year to raise money and help families in their time of need, according to the event’s registration page.
“It’s a very fun event to participate in, hang out with friends and raise money for a good cause,” Lewis said. “Participants will have a chance to see for themselves how much their money is impacting families from Shriners Children Hospital, meet the families and hear their stories.”