Students dance for children’s charity

About 50 GW students danced until dawn Friday night to raise more than $8,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network at the first GW Dance Marathon.

The music genre rotated each hour during the marathon to include dance, hip-hop, techno, karaoke, and ’70s and ’80s hours. The GW Dance Marathon Overall Committee hired disc jockeys and live bands, including King James and the Serfs of Swing and local band Avant Gardvark to fill the12 hours of continuous music.

To participate in the Hippodrome event, students raised $100 by selling dance marathon T-shirts and writing letters to friends and family soliciting money.

Individuals and groups donated additional funds, including the Interfraternity Council’s 10 groups, which gave $100 each, said Kappa Sigma member Jordan Usdan, who headed the event’s planning committee.

Each of the dancers brought friends they called “moralers,” to keep them motivated for the marathon by dancing and cheering them throughout the night. Dancers could only take breaks for meals and trips to the bathroom.

Founded in 1983, the Children’s Miracle Network is an association of 170 nonprofit hospitals in North America that works to improve the quality of life for financially needy, hospitalized children fighting serious illnesses.

Six children and their families attended the earlier portion of the event to thank students for their effort.

“It is inspirational to see kids who are sick coming out to party and have a great time,” Usdan said.

The Overall Committee, comprised of 12 GW students, two advisers from the Children’s Miracle Network and Director of Greek Affairs Tracie Anzaldi, modeled the event after Penn State University’s successful dance marathon, Usdan said.

Penn State was the first university to hold a dance marathon to raise money for charity about 30 years ago, according to Penn State’s student newspaper, The Collegian. The school raised more than $3.6 million in 48 hours with its February marathon, making it the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world, according to The Collegian.

More than 100 college campuses around the country now host dance marathons to raise money for charity, said sophomore Shari Cooperman, who headed public relations for the GW event.

“I think it’s going really well. I can’t even fathom complaining about anything, especially after seeing the children that came here,” sophomore Andrew Rossi said shortly before 1 a.m. “It’s absolutely one of the greatest things I’ve done and I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Usdan said the University of Virginia started a dance marathon three years ago with about the same number of dancers GW drew Friday. In two years the event grew to more than 300 dancers and moved to the school’s basketball gymnasium, he said. Usdan said he hopes GW’s marathon will grow to rival UVA’s in the future.

Cooperman said she hopes to expand the event into a bigger venue next year.

“I’m really happy with the turnout. I would love to see it grow until it is as big as it can possibly be,” she said. “Next year, we are hoping to have it in the Smith Center. We’ve been working on this from concept to its actuality and it’s really an amazing feeling to see it all happen.”

Planning for the dance marathon began in October.

“I’ve seen all the work that has gone into it and it’s an amazing program,” said junior Theresa Saccardi, captain of the moralers. “Having the kids here raised the spirits of everyone and inspired them to keep going.”

Organizers and sponsors said they plan to make the GW Dance Marathon an annual event.

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