The GW Dance Marathon, an organization “aimed at raising money for the DC area Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, through year-round fundraising, ending in a 12-hour dance marathon,” will take place on March 22 from 3 p.m. until 3 a.m. in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. A participant can join a team or enter individually.
The concept of the Dance Marathon originated at Pennsylvania State University, commonly known as THON, in 1973 and has spread to other universities such as University of Florida and Northwestern University. This is the first time that GW will host this type of event.
“People are very responsive to a great cause, and this University is an incredibly generous place, people care here, a lot,” Executive Board member Spencer Legred said.
Each Dance Marathon is associated with specific hospitals in their local area. The Children’s Miracle Network “is a non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals. We are the only national children’s charity committed to having 100 percent of the funds raised stay local to support local kids,” according to the Dance Marathon’s description on Facebook.
The Children’s Miracle Network hospitals treat over 17 million patients each year. Providing $2.5 billion in uncompensated care each year, the hospitals are able to treat patients at astonishing rates from treating 98 percent of all children needing heart or lung transplants to treating 72 percent of all children with pediatric AIDS.
Legred said the Dance Marathon’s fundraising goal is $50,000.
“We want to build an institution,” Legred said. “There are multi-million dollar fundraising [Dance Marathons] all over the U.S., specifically Penn State raised 12 million this year. It’s a bold goal…but we do foresee it growing to new heights.”
Executive Board member Quincy McGee said that raising money is just part of the Dance Marathon.
“It’s about awareness,” McGee said. “It’s about getting the word out there that there are children, some as young as one or two years old who face life-threatening cancerous diseases and need our help to find a cure.”
Although it is Legred’s first Dance Marathon, he is optimistic about its outlook and potential for success.
“This will bring together actual kids who have gone through [Children’s National Medical Center] and college-age students that get to have fun together and grow together, the experience changes people I have already seen that with the people that are working with me in organizing it.”
Libby Wuller, a member of the Executive Board for the Dance Marathon, said that the helping plan this marathon has impacted her college experience.
“The ability to have a huge party with students from all over campus, while making an impact on our community is an opportunity unlike any other,” Wuller said. “So many times have I donated money for a cause that I didn’t understand or know where my impact was going to go. With Dance Marathon, there is no national corporation that takes our money, just the smiles on the kids faces reminding us that we are saving lives.”
To attend the event, students must register with a $10 fee and fundraise at least $50 before the event. When registering, a participant will have a personal fundraising page online which can be sent to family and friends everywhere. Every cent fundraised goes directly toward the cause. The Student Association is helping cover administrative costs. Free food and a T-shirt will be provided to every participant.
“It will just be a massive dance party…with incredible stories to hear,” Legred said.