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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students dance all night for Miracle Network

Published: December 9, 2011
Section: Features, Top Stories

Brandeis students boogied through the night at Adagio’s second annual dance marathon on Saturday to raise funds for Children’s Hospital Boston.

Toward the end of the semester, while most students are furiously studying for finals, a small group of Brandeis students led by Adagio’s Dance Ensemble broke away from their work to organize a successful dance marathon. Not only was Adagio’s executive board and the Dance Marathon Committee joined by Brandeis students, they were supported by the greater Waltham community, and together raised several thousand dollars.

Dance marathons have been popular for nearly a century; however, in 1973 Penn State and Northwestern universities began hosting two-daylong dance marathons to raise proceeds to fund research for children with cancer. Decades later, Brandeis is following in the footsteps of Penn State and Northwestern to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, a national organization dedicated to serving children with cancer.

“Through our partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network, all proceeds raised from the event go to Children’s Hospital Boston,” said Camille Dolfen ’12, co-director of the Brandeis Dance Marathon. “Specifically, they are donated to what is called the Children’s Fund, a general fund available to patients and their families for any needs they have.”

Since the ’70s, Penn State has been setting an excellent example for colleges and universities, like Brandeis, that are just starting to host dance marathons of their own. Raising close to $10 million annually since its inception, the Penn State “THON” has raised close to $78 million for The Four Diamonds Fund, a charity devoted to defeating pediatric cancer through research at the Penn Sate Hershey Medical Center Children’s Hospital.

Brandeis’ dance marathon is taking its cues from Penn State and is growing quickly. “As part of a program that was founded in 1991, Children’s Miracle Network-affiliated dance marathons are one of the fastest-growing philanthropic events right now. The number of high schools, colleges and universities involved grows each year, but there are roughly 150 schools currently involved,” Dolfen said.

According to Dolfen, this year’s dance marathon was a great success that saw a tremendous amount of support from individual students, student-run dance groups, local restaurants and guest speakers. Roughly 200 students danced from 7:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning, as Adagio’s Dance Ensemble, B’Yachad, the African Dance Club, the Ballroom Dance Team, Brandeis Swingers, the Belly Dance Ensemble, Hooked on Tap and Kaos Kids were featured throughout the night.

Not only did the dance marathon feature performances from Brandeis students, it also hosted guest speakers, and students were able to meet a patient from Children’s Hospital Boston as well.

“One of our guest speakers was Kerry Demone, a development officer at Children’s Hospital Boston who worked closely with Adagio to help plan the event,” explained Dolfen. “We also brought in an actual patient—an adorable five-year-old named Carla—and her parents to speak about their experiences with the hospital and to enjoy some of our games and activities.”

As Dolfen continued, she described the most rewarding part of the dance marathon as being able to impact the children’s lives by doing what she and other student dancers love: dancing. “One of the highlights of the night was meeting Carla and her parents. The story they shared with our community was truly touching, and this night of dancing makes it possible for us to give back to an amazing hospital that has helped families like Carla’s in every step of the way.”

According to Dolfen, there was a slight decrease in student participation this year, perhaps due to the dance marathon’s scheduled time so close to final exams. There was, however, a great increase in support from both national sponsors and from the Waltham community.

“Papa Gino’s and Cappy’s donated salads and pizzas,” Dolfen said. “Brandeis Dining Services contributed punch and dozens of cookies. We were able to raffle off gift cards to local restaurants, movie theaters and spas. Tom Can Cook also held a two-night fundraiser, where 10 percent of proceeds from dinner patrons were donated to our cause.

“The Adagio executive board and the Dance Marathon Committee would like to thank the Brandeis community for all of its support and enthusiasm,” Dolfen said. “Our second annual Dance Marathon was a success and we hope to see everyone again next year!”