Shakin’ it for a worthy cause

This Valentine’s Day, Volunteer USF and Resident Services hope people will show some love to children they’ve never even met. The two USF organizations will hold a dance marathon Saturday in the Special Events Center to benefit All Children’s Hospital.

Dance Marathon is a national program sponsored by the Children’s Miracle Network. More than 70 colleges and universities now participate in the program that started just 10 years ago with only four schools.

USF is participating in the event for the first time, joining other Florida universities such as UF, FSU, FIU and FAU. USF’s opening effort will only take seven hours, as opposed to other schools that host marathons lasting up to 48 hours.

“We modeled the event after what other schools did, but on a smaller scale since it’s our first year,” said Janis Realmuto, graduate assistant for Volunteer USF and university advisor for Dance Marathon.

The event takes place from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m., and although participants won’t have to dance the entire time, they will have to stay on their feet for the entirety.

“We’re standing for kids who are ill in bed or who are in a wheelchair and can’t stand,” Realmuto said. “It’s a day of sacrifice for those children.”

About 80 people are registered for the event, Realmuto said. But people who want to take part in the event may register as a walk-in, as long as they get there before 10 a.m.

“Some people are registered, but people can just show up,” said Amy Simon, volunteer services coordinator for Volunteer USF.

Volunteer USF and Resident Services, the organizations sponsoring the event, will provide food for participants thanks to donations from Kash n’ Karry and Einstein Bros. Bagels, among others. Performers for the dance marathon include USF student organizations such as the One Accord Dance Troupe and the Salsa Club. A magician will also perform at the event.

But perhaps the most special guests will be the families of patients from All Children’s Hospital. Realmuto and the rest of the planning committee met some of these families when they visited the hospital in January.

“All Children’s Hospital is an absolutely phenomenal place,” Realmuto said. “If every student could go visit the hospital they would want to donate even more money.”

The donation this year is set at $20 per participant.

Although Realmuto said it has been a challenging first year regarding raising money, she added that the event is a good start, bringing awareness to a worthy cause.

“I’m really excited about starting a new tradition at USF,” said Realmuto. “It’s a wonderful experience, and it’s going to be a fun way to give back to the community and learn about a new cause.”