April 22, 2013

Dance Marathon Raises More than $40K for Boston Children’s Hospital

Once again, Emmanuel does it for the kids.

After a year of planning and fundraising, the 2013 Emmanuel College Dance Marathon (ECDM) raised $40,796.23 for Boston Children's Hospital, more than twice their $20,000 goal. The event, in only its second year at the College, culminated with a 13-hour celebration involving 230 participants in the Jean Yawkey Center Gymnasium on April 13th-14th.

Emmanuel was one of six Boston-area schools that participated in this year's Dance Marathon, a nationwide movement that raises money for hospitals within the Children's Miracle Network. The program is entirely student run and commits 100% of donations to helping local children's hospitals. Overall, Dance Marathons at more than 150 high schools and colleges across the country have helped to raise more than $62 million. Each program concludes with a lengthy dance to celebrate the group's accomplishments.

In fall 2011, Director of Student Center Services/Assistant Director of Student Activities Kevin Farrell introduced the fundraising initiative to Emmanuel, having previously glimpsed the significance of Dance Marathon while working at Purdue University. As the advisor, he formed an executive board of 12 students and they set a goal of $15,000, more than any other Boston school. By April 2012, the team had raised $18,500 and the ECDM had drawn more than 120 participants. Farrell and the students knew they were on to something.

Setting an ambitious goal of $20,000 in the fall of 2012, the new 15-student executive board set out to begin raising money. Other groups at Emmanuel, including the student affairs staff, Orientation Leaders, Emmanuel College Community Outreach (E.C.C.O.) and the Class of 2016, formed teams to engage in friendly fundraising competition.

At the ECDM event, Dancing with the EC Stars, on February 28th, Farrell announced that the group was just a few hundred dollars shy of $20,000, with nearly two months of fundraising time remaining. From that moment on, he kept the grand total a secret from the executive board.

"I had been keeping track of the preliminary number," Farrell said, "but I had to wait until the morning of Dance Marathon to factor in any last-minute donations. I knew it was going to be big."

ECDM Overall Chair Morgan Sleight '14 was able to relish in the final reveal after 13 hours of dancing and activities.

"I did everything I could to avoid hearing any numbers ever since knowing we were already at $20,000 at the end of February," Sleight said. "I didn't want to ruin the surprise. I had no idea how much we had continued to raise and wasn't sure if we had plateaued.

"I was speechless. I don't think I needed to say anything for the entire crowd to see how excited and proud I was. The tears that were pouring down my face and my smile from ear to ear expressed more than any words I could have said."

The overnight celebration included more than just dancing. Students participated in activities such as karaoke, "minute to win-it" challenges and Zumba, while taking in entertainment from musicians as well as comedy by Associated Director of Residence Life John Byrne. They share messages on a large "Why We Dance" wall and hung out with Emmanuel mascot Halo and Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster.

In the morning, four "miracle families" from the Children's Miracle Network arrived to take part in the festivities. The Emmanuel students, wearing hospital bracelets, formed a circle around the kids who had been treated at Boston Children's Hospital. The children were then able to symbolically cut the bracelets from the wrists of everyone in the room.

"It was an emotional moment for everyone," Farrell said. "There were plenty of tears."

Farrell credits the year's success to the vendors and sponsors who have helped them along the way and to Lee Bobo, a development associate at Boston Children's Hospital, who worked as their liaison to the Children's Miracle Network.

"Their team is led by a wonderful leader, Kevin Farrell, who is really the backbone of the group," Bobo said. "He holds them accountable, maintains a special camaraderie amongst the group and encourages them daily to be the best person and committee member they can be.

"The students are incredibly dedicated about their event but, more importantly, about the cause. Their passion for Boston Children's Hospital is so apparent in everything they do. I am so proud of them and am looking forward to watching the event and the students grow. I feel very blessed to be able to work with them as their hospital contact."

But most importantly, Farrell acknowledged the Emmanuel students who put in countless hours over the past eight months.

"It's the students and our executive board who made this possible," Farrell said. "It was their hard work, their determination, their passion. This isn't just another event on campus; it's a life-changing event for our students."

ECDM photos were taken by MacKenzie Vogel.