I took part in Virginia Commonwealth University’s very first Dance Marathon that took place on February 27th in the VCU student commons. Dance Marathons are organized by the Children’s Miracle Network to raise money for kids with cancer. Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a non-profit organization, meaning 100 percent of the money raised goes to children in need. Dance Marathons are held at high schools and college universities all across the country. My high school in Indiana held a Dance Marathon that was 8 hours long. RamTHON, the clever name the VCU Dance Marathon team came up with, was a 12 hour long event – however Dance Marathon’s can be shorter or much longer. Some universities that have a more established Dance Marathon executive team, with promise of more students signing and showing up to the event, have events that will last much longer. A Dance Marathon, in summation, stated on the VCU Dance Marathon website: “is a nationwide movement involving college and high school students at more than 150 schools across the country, all raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in their community. These students spend a year learning invaluable leadership and life skills while raising funds and interacting with children’s hospital patients and families. The year culminates with a 12-40 hour long event where the students stay on their feet through dancing, games and entertainment in celebration of the total amount raised that year.” I was involved on the Public Relations committee for RamTHON this past year and plan to stay involved in the years to come throughout my college career. I was tasked with spreading the word about RamTHON and getting people to talk about and hype up the event and sign up to be a dancer. There is a lot that goes into making a dance marathon happen – I learned this first hand when I was a part of helping VCU get it’s first dance marathon off the ground.
A Dance Marathon truly is a marathon; the race starts as soon as a dancer signs up. A dancer is expected to raise money for the cause. A Dance Marathon is a year long event essentially; the executive board begins planning a year in advance and then once dancers begin to sign up we really begin to start raising money for the cause. At the actual Dance Marathon itself, all dancers – which is anyone that has signed up to participate in the event – are supposed to stand for the entirety of the event. One of the main things you do during the dance marathon is dance (obviously), specifically learn a choreographed dance that is somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes long; the executive board will have memorized beforehand to teach to the rest of the dancers. There can also be specific dance periods that happened every hour, for example, one hour of VCU’s Dance Marathon was the “rave hour” – basically we turned the lights off and raved with glow sticks until we were too tired to rave anymore.
There are also several families with children that still have cancer or have survived cancer that will come in and speak to the dancers and tell their story. This is another job that has a lot of work that needs to be done prior to the event. Someone needs to be in contact with the families to line up which children and families will come and speak at the event. RamTHON had several other stations that you could rotate through as a dancer in between listening the the kid’s stories and learning the dance which typically happened on the hour, every hour; there were puppies that you could pet and play with, a card making station where you could make cards that would be delivered to children in the hospital, corn hole boards for dancers to meet each other and play games together, a wii for video games, and hula hoops and basketballs and several other fun things to keep us entertained while we spent 12 hours on our feet. All of these things would have been planned by the executive board in plenty of advance. The motto for Dance Marathon is “FTK” which stands for “for the kids”, we dance for the kids who can’t – which is the whole reasoning behind the idea of standing for the duration of the event. RamTHON was a lot of fun and drew a really unique crowd of people from VCU, I met a lot of interesting people that I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t participate this past year and also gained a lot of leadership skills from being involved in an aspect of the planning of the event.