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Drexel Dance Marathon raises $60,000 for children at CHOP | The Triangle

Drexel Dance Marathon raises $60,000 for children at CHOP

Photo courtesy of Drexel Dance Marathon

On Saturday, April 13, members of Drexel Dance Marathon stood in front of the crowd in attendance at DragonTHON, the flagship event of the organization, to put the cherry on top of a calendar year’s worth of planning, outreach, fundraising and campaigning. In reverse order, members of the organization raised a large sign with a number on it above their head. As each number was revealed, the audience cheered and gawked at the final total: $59,761.78.

While those who have grown up in Penn State’s sphere of influence may know what a Dance Marathon is, many students may be unfamiliar with the premise. Children’s Miracle Network is the organization behind over 400 Dance Marathons around the country. Together, all of these Dance Marathons have raised over $350 Million for “changing the future of children’s health.”

Drexel Dance Marathon raises money for the child life department at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Every dollar that is raised by Drexel Dance Marathon goes directly to “providing kids with the tools that they need to still experience being a kid in the hospital” according to Hailee Walker, the incoming Executive Director of the student organization. These funds can go to supplying children at CHOP with anything from pet and art therapy to educational toys for procedures, holiday and birthday gifts or even a CHOP Prom. 

The purity of the cause that they support should make the success of Drexel Dance Marathon be celebrated and supported all the more. In the 2022-2023 school year, the organization raised $28,831.93. While both this year and last year’s campaigns were successful, it is remarkable to see that this organization more than doubled its impact on children’s health in less than a year. One of the ways that it was able to cultivate its exponential growth this year was through the hard work and commitment of the “teams” that they partnered with to help raise funds. 

“Any club, sport or greek organization can be a part of Dance marathon as long as you register as a team. All that is required is getting your group together and registering as a team on our Donor Drive. By doing this you can start fundraising, and our only requirement for our teams is to do fundraisers for their donation page,” said Walker. 

There were 22 teams who partnered with Drexel Dance Marathon this year, with organizations such as Phi Sigma Sigma raising over $5,000, CHAARG raising over $4,000, and others such as Drexel Women’s Soccer and the Drexel dance team all throwing full support behind the effort. Nearly half of the teams raised over $1,000 this year.

One of the most enriching parts of having a team to support Drexel Dance Marathon is the opportunity to be paired with and directly support a Miracle Kid. This year, 18 Miracle Kids were paired with and benefitted from the Drexel Dance Marathon. One of the responsibilities of this year’s Internal Director Jami Tomczyk was to pair some of the Miracle Kids with teams based on their interests and stories. For example, one Miracle Kid, Nadia, has Cerebral Palsy. This impacted her abilities to move, with some doctors predicting that she would never be able to walk. With the help of CHOP, she is now not only able to walk, but loves to dance. Because of Nadia’s passion for dance, Tomczyk paired her with Drexel’s dance team where she has been able to perform at DragonTHON with the team. 

Caroline Ries, the external director of the organization, echoed the value of working with the Miracle Children throughout the year.

“We as Drexel students are so lucky, because the kids we benefit are right down the street from us! It’s amazing to be able to make visits to our own miracle kids when they have appointments. That also means they can come to our events and we can really get to know them. I love seeing the bonds and connections form between our teams and their paired miracle kids! Seeing all of these members of Drexel’s community come together to support this cause has been one of my favorite parts,” explained Ries. 

Another way that Drexel Dance Marathon was able to grow their impact this year was through increased community partnerships. Through the support of local businesses such as Coco’s Cookies and Creamery, Crate and Press Juice Bar, McGillin’s Olde Ale House and many more, the organization was able to generate even more opportunities for community members to simultaneously support local businesses and children’s health. 

The hard work and dedication of the student members of Drexel Dance Marathon and all of the teams that went out of their way to support an exceptional cause were honored at DragonTHON last Saturday. For six hours, over 200 attendees came together and celebrated the work of all participants, highlighted the stories of Miracle Families and the ways that CHOP helped give the Miracle Children chances at a normal childhood — and, as their organization’s name would indicate, danced.

“Main event is a time everyone gets to experience the dance marathon magic so many of us love!” Tomczyk summarized. 

Steven Muller, the Executive Director for this year’s effort, detailed the litany of events that those in attendance got to experience, such as, “a bounce house, photo booth, human hungry hungry hippos, musical hula hoops, a lip sync battle and more.”

In essence, DragonTHON was a day filled with the joy and sense of community that can emerge from the heartbreak and isolation that those who have had to endure the gut-wrenching reality of a loved one battling against illness too often experience. 

In the days since DragonTHON, Drexel Dance Marathon certainly has not lost sight of their mission, with their final total ballooning over $61,000. With the support of the Drexel community behind them, Drexel Dance Marathon will look to continue growing both their organization and their impact on the children who need it most.