The “Dance Marathon” organization here at UNH is one that has grown and differentiated itself among other charitable events on campus since its start in 2013. It has brought together a fun and interactive activity that helps the community and gets many organizations across campus involved. All of the money raised goes straight to kids and families of Boston Children’s Hospital, which provides quality healthcare to children in need.
As someone who has been a part of the event in the past, I truly can say that Dance Marathon was my favorite charitable event I’ve ever done. From dancing with friends to all the free food, raffling, games and more, this event was truly special and one that I and others take part in every year. I reached out to Harsh Patel '18, one of the leaders of this remarkable event, to get his thoughts on how this org has impacted his life and also his emotions about doing this for the kids (FTK). This year, Dance Marathon takes place Saturday, Feb. 17 from noon - 8 p.m. in the MUB GSR.
UNH Tales: What is “Dance Marathon?"
Patel: Dance Marathon at UNH was founded in 2013 with the goal of providing hope for children treated by Boston's Children's Hospital, and their families, by generating funds for Children’s Miracle Network. We donate money to support Children’s Miracle Network and their effort to provide quality healthcare to local children in need. UNH's Dance Marathon is run entirely by students who volunteer their time and dedication to ensure the success of the organization. The hard work will culminate into an eight hour dance marathon event. During the marathon, students choose to remain awake and standing for eight hours in honor of those children who are unable to. We look forward to holding our fifth annual UNH Dance Marathon, and we thank you for your help and support.
UNH Tales: What did taking a leadership role in this organization mean to you?
Patel: Taking a leadership position in this organization gave me the opportunity to become a part of something that is bigger and better than myself. I first joined the organization with not a big interest in becoming a leader, but joining a fraternity gave me the social and communication skills I needed to make my opinion heard. After being in the organization for 2.5 years, I decided that it was time for me to lead this organization and help it grow to unite the entirety of the UNH and Durham community.
UNH Tales: What were the outcomes of previous Dance Marathon events?
Patel: Since we are a fairly new organization that started about five years ago, we are still growing. But the amount of money raised in the past two years is absolutely incredible and I am proud of how far this organization has come in such a short time period. Combined, in the past two years we have raised over $75,000, and our goal this year is $45,000! So let's hope we can reach it!
UNH Tales: What makes this event so special and unique compared to other charitable events on campus?
Patel: It makes it special because the students that are part of the committee have long, busy days, so having them be able to take time out of their days to do something like this is not an easy task. We spend all first semester getting the word out, having people fundraise so we can donate as much money as we can to the families at Boston Children’s. Then, a couple months into second semester, we have this gigantic dance party held in the GSR, where people who made a team can come and dance. They can also bring a fun activity to do as well. But most importantly, we always have a few families from Boston Children’s come to our main event in February; they come and dance with us as well as tell us their story and their experience at the hospital.
UNH Tales: Do you have a goal for the Dance Marathon event this Saturday?
Our goal, of course, is to reach $45,000, and we are just shy of reaching the halfway mark, which is amazing! But ultimately, it is to make sure that we can continue spreading the word around campus, getting more people involved and show the community how much the student life here on campus enjoys giving back.
UNH Tales: Why is donating to local children’s miracle hospitals so important to Dance Marathon?
Patel: It’s extremely important for us as an organization to donate to our local children’s miracle network because it's where it hits home for a handful for people that not only go to UNH but other schools that host their own Dance Marathon’s for their own miracle networks. Donating to these hospitals means a lot to us because you never know how many people you walk by or are even close with who may have had someone close to them be a patient at one of these hospitals.
UNH Tales: Have any changes been made to Dance Marathon for this upcoming Saturday compared to previous events?
Patel: Yes. This year we decided to pick an overall theme — a beach theme — to make it more fun and interactive with the families and children from the hospital, as well as bring up the overall charisma of everyone at the event. Also, we decided to have fewer chairs at our event so people are forced to go dance and participate, do the activities and, most importantly, go show the kids visiting how to have a good time.
UNH Tales: Why should people come out and participate this weekend?
Patel: People should participate because all the money raised goes right to Boston Children’s Hospital, which is a really great place to have your money get donated to. The kids that are there are our future. Also it’s only $10 to sign up for a chance to win numerous raffle prizes. Also, there will be free food catered by Dominos, Olive Garden, Buffalo Wings and others.
UNH Tales: What type of things should students or community members look forward to on Saturday?
Patel: They should look forward to the amazing event that we have been working so hard on, as well as UNH alumni DJ Darren Roy and Alex Preston (Season 13 American Idol Contestant)! There will be many fun activities as well as your favorite music being played for eight hours straight. You will also get a chance to participate in a handful of interactive games where you could win a prize. And the best news of all, we will be having a few families visiting from Boston Children’s Hospital to have fun with us as well as tell us about their experience at Boston Children’s Hospital.