Just last year, approximately 900 members of the Lehigh community gathered for the university’s first-ever Dance Marathon in an effort to raise awareness and donations for the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. But over 70 percent of students who attended the event didn’t raise a single dollar.
On Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., students will gather in Grace Hall for the second annual Dance Marathon, but this year, with encouragement from the committee for each attendee to donate at least one dollar.
“We have 800 students coming, so if every student at least raises a dollar, that’s 800 dollars, and that’s a lot,” said Jessica Scott, director of public relations. “We want 100 percent participation in the fundraising effort. As much fun as Dance Marathon is, the root of the event is raising money for CHOP.”
Since registration fees do not contribute to fundraising for the cause, the Zero Zeroes campaign is one of the most significant changes coming to Dance Marathon. What remains the same, however, is the goal to support families with children who have been treated at CHOP.
“Dance Marathon is an 8-hour event during which everyone stands on their feet all night in support of those who can’t,” said Amanda Walter, ’16, the event’s internal chair. “Our annual Dance Marathon event, ‘All Night Strong,’ celebrates the year’s fundraising and champions the children and families of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).”
CHOP is a member hospital of the local Children’s Miracle Network. The hospital will never turn away a family because it can’t afford the care they need, Scott said.
A major change that the executive board has concentrated its efforts on for Dance Marathon 2014 has been connecting Lehigh students to the cause.
Scott said that, this year, the executive board wants to focus more on the charity’s visibility.
“Last year, a lot of students were like, ‘What is Dance Marathon? Is it just dancing?’,” said Whitney Lai, ’16, the event’s family relations chair.
Several families and children who have been treated at CHOP will attend the event, where they have the chance to share their stories and truly connect the cause to Dance Marathon.
The Dance Marathon Facebook page also has a ‘Miracle Monday’ feature. Each Monday, it highlights a child that has been at CHOP and shares his or her story, Scott said.
Lai said a new aspect of the event this year is the folding of 1,000 cranes for CHOP. The idea is based off a myth that says if people have the patience and loyalty to fold 1,000 cranes, they exhibit the crane’s qualities and recreate its beauty.
“We wanted to fold 1,000 cranes for the children,” Lai said. Students can donate a dollar and write a message on a crane to donate to the hospital.
Lai said this has helped raise awareness about the cause. Information about different children is displayed where they sell the cranes. Before writing a message to the children, students can take the time to read the different stories about them.
The committee also added in-event fundraising efforts at Dance Marathon 2014, so they encourage students to bring extra cash or GoldPlus, Walter said.
“Our goal is really two-fold — it’s for CHOP, but it’s also for Lehigh,” Scott said.
Lai said there are many people and organizations that have helped make the event possible.
“There would be no possibility of the event happening without the support of the Lehigh community,” she said. “Every hour is sponsored by a certain organization on campus.”
The club or organization determines the form of entertainment at the event for that hour and pays for it. Organizations that are involved in sponsoring an hour include the Global Union, Panhellenic Council and the Student-Athlete Council.
“Participants can expect plenty of dancing, food, games, music and, most importantly, inspiration, from one another and from the Miracle Families in attendance,” Walter said.
Various organizations will also be tabling at the event. The Southeast Asian Alliance will be tabling an area where students can donate cranes for a dollar. Pi Beta Phi sorority plans to host a table to donate bracelet kits that will enable students to choose the strings and letters that go into the kits and also write cards. Lai said each kit will be given to a child at CHOP so that children can make their own bracelets.
“A lot of everyone’s favorite activities from last year will be returning, such as Zumba, different tabling activities, free food (…) and performers will also be there,” said Leah Gonalez, ’15, external director of Dance Marathon.
During the first few minutes of each hour, everyone at the event will be taught part of a Morale Dance. At the end of the eight hours, everyone will come together to do the entire dance.
“I’m most excited for the end of the event to see all of the Lehigh students who walked in not knowing the Morale Dance and coming together to perform it,” Scott said. “Seeing those numbers go up will be great, but no matter what the final number is, it doesn’t really matter because we’ve already raised a lot of money, and every dollar is going toward a good cause.”