Over 800 people attended UNH’s Dance Marathon on Saturday, which surpassed last year’s attendance by almost 200, in an effort to raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital. At the end of the night, a total of $34,145.86 was raised.
On the day of the event, however, UNH junior phycology major and public relations and marketing chair for the event, Alyssa Kolbert, said,“It’s been going amazing. We have over 800 participants and it’s not even a quarter of the way through. Some of our people are out there dancing to make people feel like it’s okay to dance.”
Though the official motto of the UNH Dance Marathon was “For The Kids,” the event also proved exciting for attendees as students danced the afternoon and evening away and played various games and activities during this major fundraiser.
Though the Dance Marathon takes place at multiple other schools, UNH’s version of this event is relatively new, being only four years old.
The UNH chapter of this student organization works with both Boston Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit in charge of raising money for children’s hospitals across North America.
According to their Wildcat Link page, “The University of New Hampshire’s Dance Marathon is a student organization that supports Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Students spend the year raising funds in a variety of ways, planning the main event Dance Marathon, and interacting with children’s hospital patients and families. The year culminates with a multi-hour marathon where the students stay on their feet and stay awake to celebrate the total amount of funds raised that year, throw a dance party for kids treated by the hospital and introduce the cause to a new generation of UNH students.”
“It’s called Dance Marathon because you’re supposed to dance for the kids who can’t,” senior finance and management major and head of the committee to organize the event at UNH, Ali Condon, said.
“[The Children’s Miracle Network] help us put on the event and with any questions we have. They help us get the families to the event and everything like that. Basically we just raise money throughout the year for the kids at Boston Children’s Hospital and all the money goes to them and helping families not have to pay for any of the treatments,” Condon added.
“It’s not really competitive, but you try to beat your goal each year. Last year our goal was $25,000 and we raised $36,000. So this year our goal is $45,000. It’s a big jump from last year but we’re hoping to get more people involved and everything,” Condon said.
“I have a friend who goes to Purdue [University] and she’s on the exec team there. We’ve been chit-chatting about it; how to make it better. The whole idea is to get people more interactive,” Kolbert said.
According to Condon, there’s a lot of work that goes into planning this event throughout the year.
“The majority of our fundraising happens in the last week, so that’s stressful. We have to plan the day-of schedule, like the games, because you get tired of dancing all day. It’s an eight-hour event. Getting the word out there is definitely the hardest part,” Condon said.
“It’s a blast [to market for this event]. We’re trying to see what people look at most so it’s mostly social media. We try to use a lot of color in our photos to catch the eye. Another big draw is that a lot of [fraternity and sorority] life and sports teams join in. Word of mouth is great,” Kolbert added.
The majority of students at the event seemed to enjoy the family-friendly party vibe of the Dance Marathon.
“Our sorority, Alphi Chi Omega, does a team every year. It’s really fun to see everyone having fun and hanging out; raising money for the cause,” sophomore Steph Gorman said. Dancing wasn’t the only activity of the evening, however, as the sports teams and other groups involved were expected to bring an activity, such as Alpha Chi Omega’s ring toss, and a Do It Yourself (DIY) photo booth complete with wacky costumes and frames.
“We have a DJ coming for the last four or five hours, he’s just going to keep everyone’s energy high and have the lights going. We have minute-to-win-it games throughout, we have the families tell their stories to show us what it’s all about. We’re not just there to dance, we’re really there to raise money for the kids. At the end we reveal the totals and the raffles,” Condon said.
This year’s Dance Marathon brought in more people than expected.
“Last year we had 603 participants signed up. This year we’re almost at 600, so by the time of the event, we might get 700 or 800,” Condon said in an interview prior to the event.
In fact, the Marathon Committee was impressed with how many were willing to twist and shout “For The Kids.”