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SMC Dance Marathon supports children’s hospital

| Friday, February 21, 2014

In preparation for the Dance Marathon at Saint Mary’s, scheduled to take place April 5, the team of Belles organizing the event is working on spreading awareness and raising money throughout the South Bend community. The Dance Marathon is a student-led fundraiser, benefitting Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

President and senior Ellen Smith said a group of young women who wanted to bring the pure magic of Dance Marathon to campus started the event nine years ago.

“So far we have almost 130 girls registered for the Marathon,” Smith said. “We are hoping to at least double that number by the date of our Marathon.”

Smith said one of her major goals for this year’s Dance Marathon is to continue to increase the knowledge and awareness of the event’s cause to her classmates.

“I believe that raising all the money that we can is incredibly important to saving the lives of children who cannot help the cards that they were dealt,” Smith said. “In addition to raising that money, I believe that it is equally important that we convey to the best of our ability why we do Dance Marathon. In addition to money, we can send the children and families at Riley our love, positive energy and support.”

Co-fundraising executives and seniors Erin Nanovic and Christa McColl are in charge of raising awareness for Dance Marathon through various events and fundraisers, such as the For the Kids 5K in the fall semester and Riley Week in the spring semester, Nanovic said.

She said one of the fundraisers took place last week, an event called Stop the Bop. “Hoedown Throwdown” played on repeat in the Noble Family Dining Hall during lunch on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of Riley Week, Nanovic said. Nanovic said the main goal of Riley Week is to make as many people aware of Dance Marathon and Riley Hospital for Children as possible.

“Most of the students react well, and they will even sing along. I saw a few people dance, I may have been one of them,” Nanovic said. “When we play, what we call ‘annoying’ songs in the dining hall on repeat, we receive a lot of attention. If we raised $350, we would turn the song off.

“Of course, we always have a handful of people who complain, but we just do our best to remind people that we do all of this for the kids. My hope is that most people understand that and are willing to support our efforts.”

Nanovic said along with Stop the Bop, Dance Marathon also teamed up with Chipotle for a giveback night.

“We love to do giveback nights because these types of events get the community more involved,” she said. “For this giveback night, we were so blessed to find out Chipotle was not only willing to participate, but they were willing to give us 50 percent of any proceeds on Thursday night of Riley Week. 

“I went around 6:30 p.m., and I waited in line for over 30 minutes. I was so excited to see so many people waiting to get their Chipotle. There were even points where the line was wrapped around three times and still out the door. It was insane but so great to see everyone coming out to support Dance Marathon and Riley.”

Another upcoming fundraiser is “canning” at Sam’s Club, Nanovic said.

“We are so grateful that Sam’s Club allows us to do this. We take our red Riley buckets and stand outside the doors of Sam’s Club to take donations,” she said. “We meet so many people from the community who either have a personal connection with Riley or are simply incredibly supportive of the cause.”

Canning at Sam’s Club will occur this Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Feb. 28 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and March 2 from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Nanovic said each person on the executive board aims to raise at least $750, but the team harbors more than monetary goals.

“Personally, I want to exert all of my efforts into planning the best Dance Marathon yet,” she said. “It is an indescribable feeling to see the smiling faces of children who you have helped by dedicating much of your time into raising money and awareness for Riley.

“There are so many times when I can get caught up in my own issues and problems, but as soon as I focus on Dance Marathon, I remember that my homework that is due the next day is such a minor issue compared to a child fighting an illness in a hospital.”

Nanovic said she also looks forward to the good food and company associated with the event.

“Everyone who participates in Dance Marathon is full of life and so happy to be there. The feeling is contagious,” she said.
Vice president and senior Hannah Karches said the team will advertise all upcoming events on the Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon Club website and Twitter accounts as well as through flyers on campus.  

Karches said her personal goals for Dance Marathon are to increase attendance at the event and to raise awareness for Riley Hospital.

“Although we hope to raise money to support the hospital, I want other students to experience the marathon and to understand why the committee members work so hard to make Dance Marathon a success,” she said.

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