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BuckeyeThon shakes up fundraising record

Emily Tara / For the Lantern

Ohio State students shook the ground and raised nearly $500,000 for BuckeyeThon 2012, where about 1,800 student participants gathered for the annual 12-hour dance marathon.

BuckeyeThon, which kicked off Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Ohio Union, is one of the largest student philanthropies on campus. Students raised $454,826.09 this year for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, more than doubling last year’s $222,518.

In 2011, the dancers doubled their raised funds from their 2010 numbers, and in 2012 they doubled it again, a feat that has not been matched by any other dance marathon in the country.

Emma Crouser, a fourth-year in marketing and member of the BuckeyeThon marketing committee, said the final number was announced at the end of the event.

“We weren’t sure (how much we would raise), we set $250,000 as a tentative goal, a benchmark, but we wanted to raise much more. No one knew what the total was after it hit $200,000 because they took down the donation thermometer from the website about a month ago,” Crouser said.

Crouser said she was blown away by the amount of money students were able to raise.

“In two years we have raised (more than) $700,000,” she said. “That’s a lot of money.”

While organizers called BuckeyeThon fun, they also said it’s important that dancers remember the reason behind the party. Part of the rules for the 12-hour marathon require that they stand the entire time.

“If these kids can go through radiation treatment and chemotherapy, we can stand for 12 hours,” Crouser said.

About 2,400 people registered for this year’s event, of those, about 1,800 came out for the night.

BuckeyeThon 2011 was a 17-hour dance marathon, but the event was shortened to 12 hours this year in order to attract more participants.

“We decided that ultimately by shortening it we would get more people here and get them to stay all night,” Crouser said. “It’s hard to get a bunch of 22-year-olds to stay here that long.”

Activities were organized to keep participants entertained and engaged while at the event, including a hula hoop contest, a team tug-of-war contest, live music, dance performances and a 3 a.m. glow rave.

Participants were organized into different color teams that competed against each other throughout the night.

“It’s a dance marathon tradition, but it’s used to unite the whole campus because different groups are put together under the same color, and when all the colors unite, they are even more beautiful — we can all do something bigger than ourselves,” said Marie Gilman, a fourth-year in interior design and director of event operations for BuckeyeThon.

The dancing took place in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom, but other areas of the Union were set up to give students a place to reflect on the meaning of the event and their reasons for participating. A “Why We Dance” wall was assembled outside the ballroom, where dancers were invited to write their reasons for participating on a note card and pin them on the wall.

Next door was the “Inspiration Room” where previous dance marathons were remembered with pictures and fundraising totals, and the children the teams were dancing for were commemorated with hand-painted shoes to symbolize their journey with cancer and a note that explains their story.

Participants can also opt to be in a compilation video that will be given to the children and their families, encouraging them in their fight against cancer.

“Next time they go in for chemotherapy they can watch the video and remember they have 2,000 people supporting them,” Gilman said.

The theme for this year’s event was childhood memories, which set a trend for ‘90s music, an ‘N Sync imitation performance, a Mario Kart contest and board games available for participants to play throughout the night.

“We’re going to remember our childhoods all night long for them to have their childhood,” Gilman said.

Every team had the opportunity to meet the children assigned to their particular team before the festivities began.

Gilman said team members enjoyed being able to meet and interact with the kids they were supposed to keep in mind throughout the event, and said positive things about the increased awareness of BuckeyeThon on campus.

“We’ve really made our presence known on campus. We might be a little obnoxious about it, but once they’re here, they’re going to come again,” Gilman said. “If people come back again, that’s the whole entire goal of the whole thing.”

Crouser said BuckeyeThon is part of the OSU experience.

“We want everyone to be here for BuckeyeThon once in their time at Ohio State,” she said.

Addressing a crowd of dancers during the closing ceremonies, Mark Mangia, president of BuckeyeThon and fourth-year in medical technologies, spoke about the organization at OSU, calling Buckeyethon an event “that Ohio State should be known for.”

BuckeyeThon organizers and dancers look forward to the event’s future growth, and look at larger dance marathons such as the one held annually at Penn State as a model for success.

The 46-hour event at Penn State raises money for pediatric care patients, and is the largest student-run philanthropy event in the world. This year they raised $10.68 million for the cause.

“There are a lot more people here this year, which is awesome. Ohio State definitely has the potential to do this bigger,” said Ben Collins, a fifth-year in industrial and systems engineering. “When I’m an alumni and I come back in 10 years, maybe it’ll be like that.

Gilman has seen considerable growth in the program since becoming involved.

“Every year we get more families tied in and more links with the hospital,” Gilman said. “That’s the whole reason we’re here and I we don’t want to lose sight of that.”


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