September 15, 2019 | 68° F

Making moves that count

446 University students stood for 32 hours straight to raise money for children with cancer during the 14th annual Dance Marathon

Photo by Nelson Morales |

About 700 University students dance from midnight to 3 a.m. Sunday at Club DM in the College Avenue Gym as part of the annual Dance Marathon. The nightclub-inspired event charged a $10 entrance fee for students who did not officially dance for the marathon. All proceeds went toward the New Brunswick-based Embrace Kids Foundation.

Four hundred and forty six dancers took a stand against cancer at Dance Marathon this weekend, raising $442,075.06 “for the kids.” The total exceeded last year’s record of more than $380,000.

Dance Marathon, which aims to raise awareness and funds for children with cancer and blood disorders, required dancers to stay on their feet at the College Avenue Gym for a full 32-hours.

Participants could — among other activities — play arcade games, shoot hoops, use computer stations, create themed crafts or simply dance during the marathon.

Julia Crimi, director for Volunteer Management, said this year’s Dance Marathon was a success.

“DM is my life, and I’m so proud of all my dancers,” said Crimi, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “Cancer affects everyone, and Dance Marathon is my way of [fighting] since I can’t cure cancer myself.”

Proceeds go to the Embrace Kids Foundation, a local charity that helps fund the non-medical needs of children with cancer and blood disorders. The foundation provides families with tutoring and emotional support, in addition to helping with medical bills and other services.

Dancers participated in a group line dance, which  featured songs such as Katrina & The Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine,” Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway,” Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” and Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West.”

LX bus driver Stan McNeil, head football coach Kyle Flood and his daughter Isabella, and Eric LeGrand made appearances at the event to motivate dancers.

 “This is an awesome event. … There is no finer charity [than the Embrace the Kids Foundation] to be doing this for,” Flood said. “Our students are the standing to give back.”

Club DM, a nightclub-inspired dance party that opened at midnight on Sunday, allowed more than 700 participants to crowd the gym for three hours of non-stop dancing.

Many came out to Dance Marathon to support their friends throughout the event, like Alycia Abreu, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Abreu said her sorority, Kappa Zeta Psi, participates in the event every year. The sorority raised more than $2,000 at this year’s Dance Marathon.

Kappa Zeta Psi partnered with fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa to “adopt” Joey, an 8-year-old whose cancer is in remission, as part of the RU4Kids program.

The RU4Kids program, a partnership between Dance Marathon and the Embrace Kids Foundation, matches participating groups with the families of patients from the Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, according to the official dance marathon website.

“He’s always smiling. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said.

The Kappa Zeta Psi sorority had six dancers and one captain. Two of the dancers from Kappa Zeta Psi were among the top 10 fundraising individuals, she said.

Dance Marathon volunteers Alexandra Santos and Morgan Altemus, both School of Arts and Sciences sophomores, raised money through emails to friends and family, but the biggest fundraising success for their sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, was a pancake breakfast they hosted.

Altemus and Santos said although they did not meet their sponsor child Jimmy before Dance Marathon began, they looked forward to meeting him Sunday for the first time.

Kayla Shrestha, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said she decided to volunteer at Dance Marathon because her sister danced last year.

Shrestha, who volunteered at the craft table, said crafts and activities varied by the hour and had different themes, ranging from different American states to childhood television networks, like Nickelodeon.

ZBT Dance Marathon, Dance Marathon’s precursor, started in 1971. Members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at the College Ave Gym raised more than $18,000 for the American Cancer Society, according to the official Dance Marathon website.

The ZBT Dance Marathon lasted until fall of 1996, when the marathon lost support. It was not until March 1999, that the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Council President created the first annual Dance Marathon which raised $113,000.

Dance Marathon has raised more than $2 million for the Embrace Kids Foundation since its establishment.

University of Michigan, Purdue University, Iowa State University, University of California at Los Angeles and others also have their own dance marathons for sick children.

Penn State hosted its first Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Dance Marathon in 1973, a 46-hour dance marathon that takes place every February to benefit children with cancer at Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children’s Hospital. This year the fundraiser raised $10,686,924.83 toward the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children’s Hospital, according to the Penn State Dance Marathon website.

By Anastasia Millicker

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