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Dance Marathon raises record-breaking amount

<p class="p1">Julie Hermann, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, interacts with Savion Smith, age 12.<span class="s1"></p>
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Julie Hermann, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, interacts with Savion Smith, age 12.


The 16th annual Rutgers University Dance Marathon began on a sunny, windy Saturday on Livingston campus — so windy one registration tent outside the Louis Brown Athletic Center, the new and larger location for RUDM, was nearly knocked over. 

Outside the building, dancers approached the tent that represented their team. They then visited weight stations for their bags and totes, where they had stowed all the resources they would need for the next 30 hours of dancing, celebration and endurance. 

Rutgers first held Dance Marathon in 1999 and has since raised more than $3 million for children with cancer and blood disorders. Until this year, the event took place in the College Avenue Gymnasium.

Matthew Mednick, the director of finance for RUDM, said moving to the RAC created a big “learning curve” of planning for the organization. 

The move would generate more publicity and allow the event to grow in dancers and in dollars, said Mednick, a Rutgers Business School senior. 

“Every year, we try to build upon past RUDM’s and continue the legacy,” he said. 

With 1,200 student participants and approximately 800 dancers, RUDM is already the largest student-run event at Rutgers, according to a press release from the organization.

This year, they conveniently held it on the same day as open house, which they hope will encourage recruitment of incoming first-year students, he said. It also meant weekday buses ran until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Andrea Poppiti, the director of University Relations for RUDM, said the organization had approximately 33 staff members preparing throughout the year. 

“Oh my gosh, it’s … surreal that this is the last time I will be running this event,” said Poppiti, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

University Relations hosted recruitment and fundraising events and maintained RU4Kids, which tracks the relationship between children and their adoptive organizations, she said.  


The opening ceremonies began with safety videos and small speeches from members of the staff. Then families from the Embrace Kids Foundation walked with their representing students down the middle of the RAC to the center stage. One student had his adopted child piggyback his way there.

Everyone stood on their feet simultaneously and began dancing to Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).” 

Joyce Walkes is a mother of two children with sickle-cell anemia. She said the Embrace Kids foundation helped them with treatments and medication. 

When asked what she thought of RUDM, Walkes’ daughter Nicky replied with “good.”

At 12:30 p.m., Julie Hermann, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, gave a short speech thanking everyone for their participation. She joked that her 8-year-old son was surprised to see her go to RUDM.

“He said, ‘the only move you know is the cabbage patch,’” she said. “I’m not going to do it for you.”

This year’s theme was “Celebrate,” so different theme hours corresponded to different holidays. At 2:00 p.m., dancers put on costumes for the July 4th theme hour. 

Punit Arora, a member of Carpe DM, said the morale captains had done a good job of preparing them for the strain, sending out texts all week to get ready. 

Arora, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said his organization was formed specifically for non-greek members who want to get involved.

“You see a lot of greek members at Dance Marathon, so there’s kind of a stigma in the community,” he said. “We wanted to bring non-greeks together.”

Students Donate Hair FTK

Nineteen students and alumna volunteered to donate their hair on stage to make wigs for cancer patients on Saturday night. 

Christina Burke, a Rutgers class of 2010 alumna, was one of those volunteers.

“Even though this is the fourth time I am donating my hair at Dance Marathon, I am still a little nervous,” she said. “The only time I ever get my haircut is when I am donating it at RUDM.” 

Burke, who said this was her eighth dance marathon, said she is honored to have donated for such a great cause. 

Gregory Brewer, a School of Engineering sophomore, was the only male student to donate his hair. 

“Two years ago, I made a deal with a few friends to grow it out and have it cut at Dance Marathon,” he said. 

At 8:30 p.m., after 8 1/2 hours of dancing, the participants prepared for the New Year’s theme hour, changing into 2014 glasses and neon apparel. 


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