Weber State University concluded the second annual Dance Marathon, raising nearly $14,000 to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital. The six-hour event was full of music, food, contests and inspiring stories from patients.
Last year, the Activities team Vice President Michelle Thao took the lead in introducing Weber State as the first school in Utah to host a Dance Marathon.
“It was something the previous VP had wanted to do, so when I became the VP, I made it my goal to do a dance marathon,” Thao said.
Thao said last year, the concept of a dance marathon was very new to everyone involved. Yet, despite it being a new event, the university and students managed to raise over $11,000.
Malack Mouhammad, the current Activities team vice president, said the main reason for bringing the marathon back to Weber this year was to do something to help the community.
Each student that participated in the Dance Marathon was required to fundraise a minimum of $50 to enter. By donating an additional amount, students were able to participate in different contests held throughout the night.
The winners of each contest won prizes including a couple’s massage, a Minkey Couture blanket and VIP tickets to the Bill Nye lecture.
Prizes were also awarded to the top three individuals who raised the most money for the event. First place was Kennedy Cummings who raised $2,010, second place was Madison Rayner, raising $1,350 and third place was WSUSA president Jordan Slater, raising $1,051.
In attendance were multiple individuals and their families who are currently or have previously been treated by the Primary Children’s Hospital.
Throughout the night, the dancers had the opportunity to meet the families and listened to the patients tell their stoies during short breaks.
“My goal is not just for them to come and have fun, it’s more that I want them to come and meet these kids, and these families that we’re raising money for,” Thao said.
Mouhammad said that the Dance Marathon last year was a great experience spent with fellow Weber students who helped them reach their goal.
“It was really amazing for us to have the opportunity to meet some of the families that we would be helping with the money that we raised,” Mouhammad said.
Students who volunteered this year as guides were assigned to a patient and their family for the night.
Weber State student Dallas Carter, a regular volunteer at Primary Children’s Hospital, wanted to be a guide so he could meet more patients from the hospital.
“I felt like it was an opportunity to get more involved with the patients because I knew just coming wasn’t going to be that much involvement,” Carter said. “Instead of just seeing them at the dance, I wanted to actually talk to them and hear their story and help them.”
Although the patients were special guests, the guides spent the night helping them feel like a part of Weber State and the Dance Marathon.
Ali Horsfall, also a Weber State student, said meeting the patients put into perspective these families’ lives and made them feel like normal people.
“I think it’s super cool to be able to put a face to the name,” Horsfall said. “We’ve seen so much planning and advertising for the event on Facebook, that being able to interact with these families made them actually seem like real people, and not just people you hear of.”
At the conclusion of the night, all donations were totalled and written on large papers. Each paper, held by students, was raised one at a time to display the final number of funds raised.
“It’s really emotional when you have those numbers lifted up because you know that that amount is going to someone that can’t afford the medical bills themselves,” Thao said.
Since Thao will be next year’s Activities Team vice president, she is already looking forward to hosting another Dance Marathon.
One of the things Thao plans on doing next year is starting the fundraising at the beginning of the school year. By going to football games and other university gatherings, Thao wants to promote the Dance Marathon where word of the event can get out to not just students, but the community as well.
Thao said that although they want students to help fundraise for the Dance Marathon, one of the main goals is to get students to come to the actual event to show support for the patients at Primary Children’s.
“If I was a part of one of the families and could see so many people there supporting me, that would mean the world to me,” Thao said.