Lehigh held their annual dance marathon on Saturday, October 21 in Grace Hall. The event sponsors the Children's Miracle Network Hospital in Philadelphia, which is one of 170 hospitals that preforms approximately 32 million procedures for children battling illnesses each year. (Logan LaClair/B&W Staff)

Dance Marathon fundraising falls short of past years’ success

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Lehigh students and patients from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia danced for 12 hours during the fifth annual Lehigh Dance Marathon on Oct. 21 in an effort to raise money for the hospital. 

Dance Marathon, held in Grace Hall from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., engaged CHOP patients and their families in an evening of games, food and, of course, dancing. The event raised $40,975.40, and although the executive board did not set a fundraising goal this year, this final total fell below previous years’ fundraising.

This year, Dance Marathon fell on the same day as the Far Hills Races, an annual horserace held in Far Hills, New Jersey, commonly referred to as “the Hunt.”

Alli Rubin, ’18, a former Dance Marathon executive board member, said the Hunt took attention and many student participants away from this year’s Dance Marathon.

“Everyone involved in the club has spent the last year planning this event, so it’s really frustrating when there’s an event like the Hunt where everyone is chartering buses with their organizations to go there, when this group of students has put their heart and soul into something that means so much to them,” Rubin said. 

Rubin participated as a morale dancer, teaching hourly dances to participants to keep the energy high.

She said there’s difficulty and a lack of flexibility that coincides with renting a space on campus like Grace Hall for such a long period of time.

“It’s really hard for them to pick a date and this is the day that worked, which unfortunately was the same day as the Hunt,” Rubin said.

Ava Martinelli, ’21, also expressed frustration with the conflict of the two events.

“Greek life is a huge part of the attendance here and most of the Greek life is at the Hunt,” Martinelli said. “I know a lot of people will come later, but the Hunt is definitely taking a huge crowd from us.” 

After criticism that the $75 entrance fee from last year was too high, the executive board chose to waive the fee and instead require previous registration or $20 admission at the door.

“We took it away due to a lot of negative feedback from last year and in order to get better funding from the school,” said Nick Furgason, ’20, the external director of Dance Marathon.

However, he said the students who raised $75 earned the title of a “dancer.” Dancers received free food, a free shirt and other gifts throughout the night.

Furgason does not believe that waiving the fee was a contributing factor in this year’s event being less successful than years prior.

“I don’t think the minimum was necessarily the problem. We had so much engagement from the participants that were dedicated and so many participants raised $75,” Furgason said. “We even had about eight members that raised over $500, and pretty much everyone on (the executive board) raised at least $1,000, so it was really about campus involvement, and I know there were a lot of other things going on that day, so I think the outreach may have been to blame for that.”

Martinelli said the club held multiple fundraisers prior to the event, including an event at The Cup and doughnut and tie-dye shirt sales. 

Moving forward, the club hopes to better contribute to the organization by involving more students and raising campus awareness.

“Getting first-years involved really early on and getting them excited is a key aspect and is something that was definitely lacking this year,” Furgason said. “Getting it cemented their first year here that Dance Marathon is an amazing cause and something to look forward to every year would be really an ideal thing.”

Lehigh dance groups participated in hourly shows, and organizations such as Student Senate led games and activities for the children at the event.

Furgason said even though the team raised less money than expected, the members of Dance Marathon look forward to many more years of dancing and fundraising for the kids.

“I dance so kids can be kids, no matter what their situation is,” Rubin said. “They spend so much of their life in a hospital bed, and it’s so important that they still get to enjoy their childhood.”

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