Rutgers University kicks off 30 hours of dancing for Dance Marathon on Saturday morning
Rutgers University Dance Marathon (RUDM) team members were dancing to a medley of different tunes for 30 hours, but for the same cause.
The long-anticipated event took place at the Louis Brown Athletic Center from April 11 to April 12 on the Livingston campus.
The opening ceremonies set the tone for the rest of the two-day event, said Ema Poni, assistant director of Corporate Relations. Children from the Embrace Kids Foundation walked down the red carpet to the main stage along with their families and student representatives.
“Opening ceremonies (are) meant to motivate people,” Poni said. “It’s 30 hours. It’s a big pledge and commitment, so starting off strong is really important.”
Putting the kids on stage shows the importance of what the dancers are doing and the cause they are dancing for, Poni said. Different colored teams represented each child, which was a new aspect to this year’s opening ceremonies.
Nico McLaughlin was the Embrace Kids Foundation Orange Team honorary member who walked the red carpet. The 3-year-old was described as "adorable and fun-loving" as he walked with his family past a crowd of cheering Rutgers students.
“The color teams cheer on the kids,” Poni said. “This is a marathon for the kids, so we try to be supportive of them.”
Embrace Kids Foundation Green Team member and baseball lover Tommy Cleary, 17, also walked on stage to the sound of booming music and a resounding crowd.
Richard L. Edwards, chancellor of Rutgers-New Brunswick, also made an appearance during the opening ceremonies to deliver motivational words for the dancers.
“I know in New Jersey, the media sometimes seeks out the negative parts of Rutgers,” Edwards said. “But all you have to do is look around today at all the Rutgers students who are here and everyone who puts this together.”
Edwards said he looked forward to returning the next day for the reveal of how much money was raised and wished the dancers a successful marathon.
Felicia McGinty, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, offered her own enthusiastic speech to onlookers.
“Over 600 students volunteered to bring Dance Marathon together and over 800 dancers ... I thank you,” she said. “… To bring together the needs of children with cancer and blood disorders, everything you do today and tomorrow has meaning.”
Dancers also expressed gratification for the opening ceremonies.
Brian DiFiore, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said watching the Embrace Kids Foundation children walk on stage helped boost morale.
“Beforehand, you’re thinking about 30 hours of dancing and you’re like, ‘Oh no, this is going to be really hard,’” he said. “But then the kids come out on stage and you realize it’ll be worth it in the end.”
Phi Delta Theta fraternity sponsored Christina Stevenson, a fraternity member’s cousin who was diagnosed with cancer, DiFiore said. Out of 99 fraternity members, 89 of them signed up for the event.
The entire fraternity raised more than $15,000 in total, and DiFiore said he personally raised $830 since he began fundraising in February.
Christina Stevenson, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, would not be attending Dance Marathon because she is in the hospital for chemotherapy, but DiFiore said his fraternity is excited to be dancing in her honor for 30 hours.
DiFiore said he is looking forward to the reveal and is hoping RUDM can raise at least $700,000.
"Seeing the kids go on stage was really nice and brought us together as a community," he said.
Avalon Zoppo is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in pre-business. She is an Associate News Editor at The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @avalonzoppo for more stories.
View more of The Daily Targum’s coverage of Rutgers University Dance Marathon 2015 at dailytargum.com/rudm2015.