For the Kids
Dance Marathon at U.Va. holds annual fundraiser
People across the University community came together this weekend to support the University Children’s Hospital at the annual Dance Marathon at U.Va. charity event. The two-fold program began Friday with a student-only night at Boylan Heights and continued Saturday with a carnival-themed event for children and families.
The national organization, started in 1991, coordinates Dance Marathon events at more than 150 universities and pairs each with a local Children’s Miracle Network hospital.
Dance Marathon Chair Tommy Reid, a third-year College student, said he became passionate about the event after attending his first year and hearing the story of a young girl admitted to the Children’s Hospital.
“For someone who had a harder first five years of her life than anyone could ever imagine, seeing how strong of a person she had become was motivation enough for the past two years to get involved with Dance Marathon,” Reid said.
The charity event, Reid said, is particularly important because of its local focus.
“This is not some external research fund or some sort of anonymous cause that’s headquartered far away,” Reid said. “This is 50 yards from the Corner, this is right in the middle of our everyday life. These are people and children and families who count on the Children’s Hospital for care that they cannot receive anywhere else.”
This year, Dance Marathon raised $71,339.85 for the hospital.
Fourth-year Commerce student Anne Blankenship, an event representative for Delta Gamma,
said her personal experiences made her want to get involved in the cause.
“Ever since I was in third grade, I have always loved kids and playing with my cousins,” Blankenship said. “They were born premature so they spent a lot of time in the Children’s Hospital. Not only did I get the firsthand experience but it has always interested me. My family has always supported the Children’s Hospital.”
Blankenship has served as the event’s fundraising chair for two years.
Other participants, such as first-year College student Emily Hauben, a Kent dorm representative, drew upon a combined passion for dance and service to better the lives of children at the hospital.
“I always have felt that dance is a way to spread joy to the greater community and I think that Dance Marathon does a really good job of that,” Hauben said. “The Miracle children that come to the event every year look forward to it to a huge extent and feel so elated.”
Though the event only lasts for one weekend, Dance Marathon requires several months of planning to engage student groups and various organizations around the Charlottesville community.
“This is a really big deal for us because we finally get to see the fruits of what we’ve been doing the past nine months,” Reid said. “We’re thinking about them every single day and we’ve been working for nine months not simply just to have a line on the résumé but to really impact a cause that means the world to the people who are involved with this organization.”
During Dance Marathon, patients at the U.Va. Children’s Hospital and their families had the opportunity to participate in various activities, including bounce-houses, a mechanical bull and various performing groups.
“The impact is most unique in the fact that these families will be there and be able to meet them and make the interpersonal connection,” Blankenship said. “Having a really carefree and fun day where their sickness isn’t on their minds [is important].”