This year, more than 600 students at Kent State University, The University of Akron and Walsh University gave up a Saturday to raise money for Akron Children’s Hospital at their schools’ Dance Marathon events. Their efforts brought in a combined total of more than $90,000 for Akron Children’s patients.
Dance Marathon is a fundraiser through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a national nonprofit dedicated to saving and improving lives of children by raising funds for hospitals across the country. Students involved with Dance Marathon spend the school year raising money for Akron Children’s in a variety of ways, culminating with an on-campus event where the students stay on their feet for anywhere from 8-40 hours.
Patient families are invited to attend the Dance Marathon events to share their stories with the students there and put a face to their fundraising efforts.
“Dance Marathon is so unique because the event is really a celebration of our year-long fundraising and a celebration of the families that we are helping,” said Katherine Hamrock, Walsh University’s Dance Marathon director. “It allows college students to support the local community in a big way and get together and share their passion for the kids.”
Walsh University hosted its 4th Dance Marathon March 25 and raised more than $20,000, which was $5,000 more than their goal and a total surprise to Hamrock, who was kept in the dark about the total until it was revealed at the end of the event.
“Since I’m a senior, my vice president and finance chair decided that the total should be a complete surprise until the reveal so the last time I knew the total was one month out when we had just over $7,000,” Hamrock said. “It was incredible to look back at pictures and videos of that moment and see the shock and pure joy and happiness on the faces of our dancers.”
Matt Leupold, director of Kent State University’s Flash-A-Thon, was also proud of the growth their Dance Marathon program saw this year. Kent State’s 5th event on April 8 raised more than $47,000 to support Akron Children’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders – $2,000 more than their goal.
“Our Executive Board this past year made a tremendous effort to grow this organization, and made my job as president much simpler,” Leupold said. “I’m incredibly proud of the hard work we all put in this year to raise $10,000 more than Flash-A-Thon has ever raised previously, and grow by 52 percent over last year’s total.”
The University of Akron’s 3rd Dance Marathon event, held April 15, also exceeded last year’s fundraising amount by bringing in
more than $24,000. Hannah Yoo, director of University of Akron’s Dance Marathon, has been involved in the event since it began on the Akron campus 3 years ago and loves the opportunities Dance Marathon provides for students to connect with the families benefitting from their fundraising.
“Our ‘Miracle Families’ share their stories with us and explain why what we do is so amazing, and that really speaks volumes to the new dancers, but also to students who choose to dance year after year,” Yoo said. “I love seeing dancers make that meaningful connection with this organization and want to step up into a leadership role of either a director or committee member the following year.”
Brittany Costa, special projects coordinator for Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation, loves seeing the students’ enthusiasm and passion for fundraising.
“The passion and dedication each program has, for not only Akron Children’s but Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, brings tears to my eyes,” Costa said. “Being able to help each of these programs grow and exceed their goals was an honor. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store as they help create even more miracles, ‘for the kids!’ ”