Student 'rocks' for 26 hours to raise money for Bone Marrow Foundation
It was 10 p.m. on Thursday night and Dan Siegal settled into a rocking chair in the middle of College Avenue.
Flash forward to 5 a.m., and Siegal, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, could be spotted outside in the same chair with a physiological psychology textbook cracked open and wrapped in a blue blanket.
And 10 hours later, Siegal remained planted in the rocking chair, downing a Starbucks Double Shot Energy can and dedicating a 17th hour to raising money for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.
After 26 stationary hours and a handful of bathroom breaks, Siegal emerged as Rutgers’ first ever “rocker.”
The event Siegal rocked for, “AEPi Rutgers Rock-A-Thon,” was hosted by the Jewish Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. The event, which is the first of its kind at Rutgers, raised more than $4,000 at the end of the 26 hours.
While Siegal collected donations during the 26 hours, the fraternity was also canning and raising money for the days and weeks leading up to the event, in which time they received more than $1,000.
“It’s rewarding,” Siegal said. “Truth be told, this is a pretty massive fundraiser and a lot of donations have come out of it. It has procured some popularity and we are raising a lot of money.”
Rutgers’ first Rock-A-Thon was modeled after similar Rock-A-Thons across the country. Rock-A-Thon began at the University of Missouri, where it has been a staple at the school since its formation in 1969.
Mizzou’s Rock-A-Thon, also hosted by its AEPi chapter, gives Rutgers a run for its money. In 2013, the school’s Rock-A-Thon raised $123,000 and lasted 63 hours.
Derek Leckner, philanthropy chair of AEPi and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, said he hopes that the Rutgers Rock-A-Thon eventually grows to this scale in coming years.
“We want to try to bring a tradition to Rutgers, and this is the way we think we can do it,” he said. "At the end of the day, all I want to do is start something here that the brothers in my fraternity can come back in 20 years and still see the event going on at Rutgers."
To increase the scale of the fundraiser, Leckner said a Rutgers alumnus agreed to DJ a portion of the event for free. The Scarlet Knight also stopped by to bring school spirit.
Though Leckner admits the event seems "silly," he hoped the outrageous factor of the fundraiser would help draw the attention of students.
And despite a difference in scale, there is one major similarity between Mizzou’s 45-year tradition and Rutgers’ newly formed Rock-A-Thon.
Being chosen as “the rocker” is the highest honor.
“You have to be a different type of person to be the rocker,” said Leckner, noting that Siegal stayed awake for a full day and two hours.
Before being selected, Siegal had to undergo a vigorous election process. In addition, two fraternity brothers at minimum were required to keep “the rocker” company.
“A few of us ran (in the election process),” Siegal said. “I was dying for the responsibility though. I wanted to get more involved. Is it easy? No. But I think I’m very capable of tolerating it, unlike a lot of people.”
Siegal's dedication to Rock-A-Thon stretched to his academia — he had to skip Thursday classes in order to rock. But to stay entertained in the chair, Siegal caught up with his notes for class.
“The past week, I’ve found myself in a pit of doom and despair of distractions and inability to study, and I was always scared like, ‘Oh no, when I’m in the chair, it’s going to be even harder to study,'” he said. “But somehow I’ve gotten more studying done in the chair than I have in the past month.”
In order to get authorization for the event, Siegal said the fraternity had to cut corners and agree to occasional bathroom breaks.
“That’s where we drew the line,” he said. “(We also) had to get rid of the liquid diet idea.”
After he endured 17 hours of a 26-hour "rocking" affair, Siegal kept his eyes on the prize and his body in the chair.
“Keep living the dream,” he said. “Keep high-fiving the sky.”