Students dance for St. Jude's

Last Saturday night, more than 35 teams of CMU students danced for St. Jude?s Children?s Hospital at the University?s third annual Dance Marathon. One of CMU?s most popular charity events, this year?s Dance Marathon raised over $5600 towards funding research and treatment programs at St. Jude?s to benefit kids with catastrophic childhood illnesses, particularly cancer.

Modeled after Penn State?s ?Thon,? the largest student-run philanthropy event in the country, Dance Marathon is an all-night (8 pm?8 am) dance party that changes theme by the hour and includes board games, T-shirt decorating, DDR, and refreshments. Participants each paid a $20 entry fee and were asked to raise $10 in donations.

Throughout the night, a giant thermometer charted the total amount of funds donated. The level continued to rise, as Red Bull representatives including sophomore design student Paul Recalde passed out free drinks to keep the dancers energized.

Although Dance Marathon was held in Rangos Ballroom last year, this year UC Wiegand Gym accommodated even more participants. Although Wiegand was untraditional to book, it allowed for more extensive decoration and a larger dance floor.

Dance Marathon director Megan Laskowski attributed the event?s success to the fact that its participants could both have fun and donate to a worthy cause simultaneously. Although first-year morale team member Seena Mehrabanzad admitted that he was initially enticed by the idea of ?dancing all night long,? he eventually echoed Laskowski?s sentiment: ?I?d give even if someone just asked me to. This is cooler.?
It was also the first CMU Dance Marathon for Ryan Reczek, the event marketing representative for St. Jude?s in western Pennsylvania. However, compared to similar events that he?s attended, he claimed that CMU?s was ?one of the best I?ve seen in a long time.?

He stressed that although St. Jude?s is based in Memphis, Tenn., its research is shared with families throughout the country and all over the world. Though there are no children currently being treated from the Pittsburgh area by St. Jude?s, Reczek did confirm that there are several children in the greater western Pennsylvania region that are. In addition, the research and treatment progress made at St. Jude?s is constantly being utilized the children and doctors from the Pittsburgh area as it becomes available.
St. Jude?s has successfully treated more childhood cancer patients than any other childhood cancer research center in the world. Since the hospital?s opening in 1962, groundbreaking research has brought the survival rate of children with the most common forms of childhood cancer up from 25 percent to 80 percent.

When asked her favorite part of Dance Marathon, Laskowski answered without hesitation that seeing the thermometer grow as participants swamped the floor was well worth the price of admission.