This semester, the University of Rhode Island will be hosting their first ever eight-hour dance marathon to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. With all proceeds going to Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, “RhodyThon” will last from 6 p.m. on Friday, March 24 to 2 a.m. on Saturday, March 25 in Mackal Field House.
Popular at many institutions, the idea for URI to hold a dance marathon of their own was initially proposed by Hailey Flavin, president of the PanHellenic Council and executive director of student affairs for RhodyThon. Transferring schools, Flavin was able to experience a dance marathon and ultimately bring the event to URI.
“When I participated in at Elon, it was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had,” Flavin said. “It’s something I wanted to start here, but always thought was an unachievable dream.”
Following a summer internship with Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Kathy Collins, the dream became more tangible and Flavin was able to utilize her connections within the Leadership Institute, as well as Greek Life, to bring the idea into fruition.
In regards to connections with campus organizations and affiliations, Student Senate will be co-sponsoring the event as a part of a contingency grant to reduce electronic costs. Additionally, Dean of Students, Dr. Daniel Graney, will be assisting with the cost of hiring the URI Police Department to provide security. All of this ensuring that the donations raised go directly to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Working alongside Flavin is a board of students encompassing many different departments, clubs and organizations. Jordan Broadbent, executive director of marketing and outreach for RhodyThon, has been at the forefront of planning and organizing since the conception of the idea.
“I have friends at UCONN and it’s huge,” Broadbent said. “It’s something I really wanted to be involved in, so when the opportunity came to me I just immediately jumped on board for it.”
To prepare for the event, Broadbent spent the J-term period reaching out to student organizations and clubs to encourage participation, as well as contacting corporations and businesses within the community for potential donations.
In addition to dancing, three families affected by the Children’s Miracle Network will be speaking and sharing their personal experiences throughout the night. “We’re trying to focus on the range of what Hasbro does,” Broadbent said. “It’s a great way to connect with the cause.”
Student involvement has reached unprecedented heights in terms of donations.
Introduced to RhodyThon through her sorority, freshmen Sydney Kessler is currently leading as a top fundraiser after individually raising over a thousand dollars. “I wasn’t expecting this to happen,” Kessler said. “I just asked around and it spread when different people told different people.”
In her first-time fundraiser, Kessler quickly surpassed her initial goal of $180 through the help of social media. “Just get it out there, text people you know, and post it everywhere,” Kessler said. “Our donations mean more research, and hopefully a cure.”
However, as explained by Mckenzie Kiesle, team captain of the donation page for women’s volleyball, “dance marathon is not only about raising money.”
“You’re giving your love and support for an entire 8 hours to kids who need it most,” Kiesle said, who has hometown experience with dance marathons. “In Indiana, we raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital, but for me it doesn’t matter where you’re fundraising for, because it’s all For The Kids!”
JT Oldham, president of the Inter-Fraternal Council, worked closely with Flavin and other organizers to ensure successful participation from all of the fraternities. “We’re letting them just develop their own goals, instead of penalizing we’re allowing them to own up to themselves,” Oldham said.
The decision to allow individual organizations to set their own fundraising goals and keep themselves accountable has been predominantly positive.
“Sigma Alpha Epsilon has outdone their goal by around two to three thousand dollars,” said Oldham. “It’s been amazing to see that there’s been a handful of chapters that have gone above and beyond. I’ve never seen a group of fraternity men come together like this or become as emotionally invested in a cause before.”
“SAE’s national philanthropy is the Children’s Miracle Network,” Connor Meehan, sophomore and SAE legacy, said.
Meehan has a personal connection through Boston’s Children Hospital where a team of doctors worked to repair a hole in his younger brother’s heart. “Since then, my family has participated in numerous fundraisers for the organization,” Meehan said.
Although currently studying abroad, Meehan created a RhodyThon donation page and has been instrumental in his SAE brothers’ fundraising endeavors.
“I have had countless brothers reach out to me,” Meehan said. “They know how much this organization affects me and how worked up I get when there is talk about it, yet alone an event for it… The Children’s Miracle Network gave me my best friend. I owe them everything.”
RhodyThon registration will begin at 5 p.m. on March 23, with kickoff at 6 p.m. All are welcome and anyone may participate regardless of fundraising.