Today, Friday, Dec. 7, Case Western Reserve University’s SpartanThon club, formerly known as Dance Marathon, will have a kick-off event for its March Dance Marathon. The event will be in Thwing from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a dance performance, free food, and wristbands, as well as presentations from families impacted by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
According to Sylvan Ryder, a member of SpartanThon, part of the reason that the group is putting on a kick-off event is because they “want Dance Marathon to become a tradition at CWRU.” Dance Marathon, as the name suggests, is a 12-hour marathon of dancing. Dance Marathon will be held on Saturday, March 2 from noon to midnight in Veale.
Participants can come as dancers and work with SpartanThon all year long to help fundraise and find donors to pledge money for their 12 long hours of dancing at the marathon.
Alternatively, participants may come as “moralers” for a five-dollar donation, and give support to the dancers. A team of several moralers is recommended for each dancer since moralers may come and go as they wish, as opposed to staying the whole 12 hours. Participants may register on the SpartanThon page of DonorDrive’s website.
SpartanThon has reached out to many student organizations for Dance Marathon. Each student organization at CWRU is encouraged to send at least one dancer to the event to represent them, while the remaining members are encouraged to come as moralers.
“We’re really focusing on the team aspect this year,” said Ryder. “We want to bring all the clubs together. No matter what you can do, you can help”
The event won’t be all dancing, though. There will be a minute-to-win-it every hour, themed music hours, including themes like Disney music or country music, raffles, crafts, and a bounce house.
Preparation for this year’s Dance Marathon has put an emphasis on why each SpartanThon member is involved in this event. Several are committed because of family members or friends who need or have needed care as children, while others, like Ryder, are doing it “for the kids’ smiles and giggles.”
“We’re all dedicated people,” said Ryder, “We’re passionate about what we do and we hope others can see this and the reason why. We all have our own individual reasons for dancing and that is what is so powerful about this cause, because everyone has some connection to it.”
The donations raised by Dance Marathon will go first to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, directly benefiting the CWRU and Cleveland communities, and will also benefit CMNH.
SpartanThon has also hosted other fundraisers to benefit Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, including Dancing with the CWRU Stars, featuring CWRU faculty dancing with professional instructors, and, a new addition this year, Extra Life, a week-long event encouraging participants to play video games for 24 hours. Dance Marathon, though, is SpartanThon’s largest fundraising effort, raising over $7000 last year alone.
Besides these fundraising events, CWRU SpartanThon has also established a “great working relationship with University Hospitals,” according to Ryder, who is responsible for SpartanThon’s hospital relations. SpartanThon encourages and coordinates volunteer efforts in University Hospitals.
Anna Czekaj, who was a founder of the event two years ago, added, “To me, this event is more than just a place you can hang out with your friends and support each other for 12 hours. It’s an opportunity to give back to the hospitals which helped you when you were born, sick, or injured. It’s a chance for you to make sure that every kid just like you receives the care they need and deserve.”
“If you accept the challenge to be a 12 hour dancer, it ends up being more than just that 12 hours; it’s the irreplaceable feeling of knowing that you’re making a difference,” she continued, “Not just any difference, though. You’re making a difference in the lives of the kids right across the street. I can’t think of a better reason to do this event than for them.”