Students Raise Funds for Childhood Cancer Research at Dance Marathon

Photo by Christopher Wilkos
Photo by Christopher Wilkos

By Sam Blum '18

Just over a year ago, Wesleyan had its first-ever Thon, a marathon dancing event found at many college campuses where students spend hours upon hours on their feet dancing as a means to fundraise for the fight against pediatric cancer. The event's Wesleyan iteration was started by the men's wrestling team and was successful in its own right, raising $10,000 for the Connecticut Children's Medical Center (CCMC) in Hartford . This successful marathon would help set the stage for the even greater triumph that was this year's Wesleyan Thon.

A board member for this year's WesThon, Dana Mitchell '18, was a late addition to last year's event, being asked to participate as part of the women's lacrosse team. As a member of her team, Dana engaged with a draftee of Team Impact, an organization that drafts children with serious illnesses onto collegiate athletic teams. As a means of supporting her adopted teammate's struggle with cancer, Dana attended HuskyTHON, the largest dance marathon of its ilk in the region, which took place at the University of Connecticut on February 18th. "I went to HuskyTHON to support her," said Dana, "and I thought 'Oh my gosh, this is such a great event.' I wanted to get started with this at Wesleyan, and get her to come… so I joined [the board] and worked to get my teammates more involved."

Dana was part of a ten-person organizational board that prepared for the event, which was held at Psi Upsilon on April 8th. Thanks to the passion and hard work of Dana and students like her, the six-hour dance marathon was very successful. "The turnout was amazing," Dana said. "We had over 220 people sign up online, and even more ended up showing up." Amazing is certainly a good word for it; Thon raised over $20,000 for the CCMC. But that wasn't the only great thing Thon was able to accomplish this year.

Three kids from the CCMC were guests of honor at WesThon. In the hopes of making this experience a meaningful and fun one for them, the Thon team added crafts and games for the kids to enjoy if all that dancing started to wear them out. "It was really catered to those kids, making it all about them and having fun with them." And Dana isn't afraid to boast for a good cause. "They said they had more fun with us than at HuskyTHON," she said with a noticeable smile. The thousands of dollars raised are surely a sign of the dedication and care behind this event, but so is this evident pride in a job well done, in brightening the lives of special kids.

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