Most fundraisers are big ego bruisers. People will slam doors in your face at the thought of purchasing overpriced cookies. No one ever wants to buy a two-year magazine subscription. And who enjoys standing outside in the heat washing dead bugs off cars all day?
But there is one successful event that’s donated millions of dollars to hospitalized children across the country. It’s fun, inexpensive and doesn’t involve any deceased insects.
Introducing Dance Marathon, the nation’s largest student-run philanthropic event that works in conjunction with All Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. The event, held tonight at 6 in the USF Rec Center, raises money for disabled children and their families by simply getting people to dance, eat, talk and play games, all under one condition: No sitting.
Rachel Head, a graduate student who works for Volunteer USF, co-advised Dance Marathon at USF and established committees of undergraduate volunteers.
“Dance Marathon is just a really fun event that’s symbolic of standing for children who are in the hospital and may not be able to stand for themselves,” said Head. “It’s an opportunity for students to have fun, play games, meet Miracle families, meet the kids who are being serviced at the hospital and at the same time give back to a good cause.”
The five-hour event includes dancing, dinner, limbo contests, “Chubby Bunny” and three TV screens providing hours worth of Halo, Madden and Super Smash Bros. A step team and two dance troupes will perform, and a speaker from All Children’s Hospital will address the participants. Kids and parents from Children’s Miracle Network will be present to take part in the activities with USF students.
“The children from All Children’s Hospital get to interact with the students from USF, and we get to know them on a different level,” said Sara Wood, a sophomore volunteering at Dance Marathon. “It’s more of a heart-to-heart instead of just a lecture series.”
Head said that having the Miracle families come allows the students to really see what their efforts are doing.
“It allows you to see how privileged we are and that USF is an amazing community,” said Head.
The fundraiser, which is co-sponsored by Greek Week and Resident Services, is geared toward all students in order to get as many participants as possible.
“We’re targeting all students,” said Head. “We’re targeting students who live on campus, students who live off campus, Greeks and non-Greeks. We’re trying to make it an event that appeals to everybody: grad students, undergraduate, everything.”
All chairs will be removed from the Dance Marathon room to make sure no one sits down. Participants are also asked to not wear watches. Instead, to keep track of time, students are taught a “moral dance” to a song that is played at the top of every hour, said Head.
According to USF’s Dance Marathon Web site, http://www.ctr.usf.edu/dancemarathon/marathon.htm, more than 90 U.S. colleges have sponsored the event, contributing to the closest All Children’s or Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in their communities. USF began fundraising through Dance Marathon last spring and has continued to hold one every semester since. The next one will be in spring 2006 and hopefully last for 12 hours, said Head.
“They’re actually building a new hospital right now, so it’s great that USF has been able to consistently give a few thousand dollars each Dance Marathon,” Head said. “We know that we’re helping to build that new hospital.”
Wood said she feels “refreshed” volunteering at Dance Marathon.
“It’s just amazing to hear the (children’s) stories and see these kids come out and have fun,” said Wood. “It makes you really appreciate life.”
Over 300 students have registered for Dance Marathon, but students can still sign up to participate tonight when the doors open. Registration costs $10 and can be paid by cash or check.