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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dance marathon raises over $8,000

Published: November 15, 2013
Section: Front Page, News

While her brother Martin lost his life as the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombings, seven-year-old Jane Richard, who lost her leg in the attack, is currently recovering following 39 days in the ICU and a round of 12 intensive surgeries at Boston Children’s Hospital. Jane’s mother, Denise, suffered a severe eye injury, while her father bore shrapnel wounds from the incident.

Despite her injuries, Jane has not relinquished her passion for dance. She is but one of the countless inspiring children receiving treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of the top pediatric hospitals in the nation.

In a campus-wide effort to help children like Jane, the fourth annual Brandeis Dance Marathon hosted on Nov. 2 succeeded in fundraising a record total of $8,175 for Boston Children’s Hospital as hip hop, classical ballet and tango dancers, among others united to lead performances and interactive lessons for the Brandeis community. A total of 165 participants were registered for the event.

Brittany Ritell ’15, coordinator for the event, reveals how touched she was by Jane’s story and the resilience of other children currently being treated at the hospital. “The dance ones always get me. As someone who has loved dance my whole life, I couldn’t imagine not being able to do it. It’s incredible,” she says.

Although the Adagio Dance Ensemble, the official sponsor of the event, originally aimed for a goal of $10,000 in fundraising, Ritell remarks on the noteworthy accomplishment of reaching $8,125, far surpassing efforts in previous years, which had raised at most $5,000. According to Ritell, fundraising for the event increased by 60 percent from the previous year. A diverse assemblage of dance teams performed and led instructional lessons for those in attendance, including the Swing Dance Team, the Argentine Tango Society, the Ballroom Formation Team, Adagio Dance Ensemble, Kaos Kids, B’yachad, Hooked on Tap and Zumba led by Dani Nurick ’16.

During the first half of the event, patients and members of the Boston Children’s Hospital were present, dancing alongside Brandeis students. Ritell comments on the impact of social media and required registration for all performing groups this year as one of the key factors contributing to the success of the event.

Stories such as Jane’s were published on Facebook as “Miracle Mondays,” serving as sources of inspiration leading up to the event. Featured as another “Miracle Monday,” Paige Welch was kayaking with her family off the coast of Trinidad when tragedy struck, as a speed boat suddenly crashed into their kayak. Rushed to medical centers where she was stabilized along with her father, Paige was then flown to Boston Children’s Hospital, where she underwent an arm amputation. However, like Jane, Paige has not let this loss hinder her love for athletics, continuing to dedicate herself to tennis.

“Reading these, it just makes it more real, what we’re helping to keep alive. We’re helping this hospital to help children,” Ritell explains.

Revealing her desire to become involved with the dance marathon, Ritell states, “On a personal level, it was a really awesome way to mix my major with something I’m passionate about.” With a major in business and minors in film and journalism, Ritell has been dancing her entire life and hopes to potentially pursue a career in business development, fundraising for nonprofit organizations.

Ritell further attests to the prestige of Boston Children’s Hospital, stating, “People come from all over the world to come to this hospital because they know their children will get the best care.” For the past 19 years, the hospital has been ranked as one of the top two children’s hospitals in the country. “They will take you no matter your ability to pay,” she says.

As she eagerly anticipates studying abroad in Australia in the spring, Ritell reaffirms her desire to serve as coordinator for Brandeis Dance Marathon again in the future. Although she originally thought she would want to serve as president of Adagio, she confesses she fell in love with the position of coordinator. In the future, she aims for the event to be an even greater success, stating, “I want to actually hit the 10,000 next year.”

Expressing her gratitude to the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance and sponsors such as Cappy’s for their generous donations, Ritell also cites the collaborative efforts that led to the event’s success: “I want to say a huge thank you to my committee. It was not a one person effort by any means.”