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Junior Class Council to host second annual dance-a-thon

| Friday, April 8, 2016

The Junior Class Council will host the second annual Notre Dame Dance-a-thon from 3 p.m. to midnight on Saturday in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center (JACC) to raise funds for renovations to the Memorial Children’s Hospital in South Bend.

Junior Tegan Chesney, Dance-a-thon chair, said the Dance-a-thon committee appreciated the opportunity to make a difference in the local community.

“[We] went on a tour of the children’s hospital, and we saw the rooms as they are now and the rooms how they’re going to be in the future with the new renovations, the new addition,” Chesney said. “We wanted to raise money for this cause because for other schools [dance-a-thons], often times they’ll raise money for a big organization, a big hospital where they may have a local branch, but we really liked Memorial because it was so local and a lot of the residents and community members have been there.”

The marathon’s move from South Dining Hall to the JACC and its shortened time frame will allow more participation in the event, junior Freddie Stavins, Dance-a-thon marketer, said.

“I think the JACC is sort of a more immersive experience. … There’s a bit more room for people to play on the inflatables,” Stavins said. “Last year it went on really long and sort of the focus of the event is family-oriented and we want kids to show up as well, so by having a more concise time frame, that way we can draw more people and people will be able to experience more in the smaller amount of time.”

Paul Davis, gift officer for Beacon Health System, said the adjusted time frame has already attracted many patients and their families to the event, including this year’s guest of honor, Hannah Bell.

“[Bell]’s been battling cancer for a few years, and there’s a video of her online singing the song ‘Flashlight’… and she’s actually singing it while she is in her infusion bed getting chemotherapy, and then the video is intertwined with different kids in the hospital,” Davis said. “We’re going to have her probably at about 3:30 get up onstage, say a few words about what she’s gone through, how much it means to her having the Dance-a-thon and everything and basically say ‘3, 2, 1, get moving.’

“It’s going to be really neat to celebrate her.”

Davis said he issued a challenge to the Hall Presidents’ Council for increased student participation in the event.

“[For] the hall that raises the most money — with a minimum of a $1,000 — in our new facility in the front entrance will be a large Dance-a-thon plaque with a picture of the entire hall,” he said. “Then we’re also going to give that hall two exclusive visits to the new Children’s Hospital where they can go and visit with patients, physicians. … They’ll pretty much have the run of the mill of our children’s hospital one time in the spring [and] one time in the fall.”

Chesney said in addition to music and dancing, the event schedule will feature a performance from the Irish Dance team at 5 p.m., a Zumba instructor at 7 p.m. and inflatable bounce houses and activities throughout the marathon.

“We’re trying to integrate the student performers within the event, but then also get students excited about it through all of the inflatable things which can either be geared toward the kids who can be coming from the hospital or college students,” Chesney said. “We’re trying to have these things that can appeal to any audience, any range of people who want to come. In the future we’d love to reach out to more groups and have different performers.”

Stavins said the Dance-a-thon committee’s marketing campaign has focused on the joy of the event as well as the charitable aspects.

“We’re just trying to promote the joy of dancing,” he said. “I feel like we all sort of have this great, childlike portion to ourselves and helping these kids experience a rich childhood is the ultimate goal.”

Chesney said she hopes students enjoy the event in addition to gaining a new appreciation for the Dance-A-Thon’s cause.

“I hope that they — at the event, and before the event — they see the cause and they see what the money is going for, but then they also have fun dancing and have fun on the inflatables and face painting or having their own face painted,” she said. “I hope that they take joy from this event.”

Davis said he wants students to realize Memorial Children’s Hospital’s unique and important impact on the South Bend community.

“Our children’s hospital loses over $1 million every year because 64 to 70 percent of the kids that we see are either on Medicaid, or they’re completely uninsured and we don’t turn anybody away regardless of their ability to pay,” he said. “If we didn’t have Memorial Children’s Hospital right here in South Bend they would have to travel a minimum of two hours away to receive treatment. … I just want students to understand what a unique resource is just right down the road and how much it means to the community, and to partner up with the students, for us, is just amazing.

“It’s definitely a blessing.”

About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a senior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, who recently wrapped up her year as Editor-in-Chief. She is a former resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Contact Courtney