Wilkes hosts second Dance Marathon, exceeds expectations


Emily Cherkauskas

As of Saturday, March 26, Dance Marathon raised more than $11,500 for the Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network, as announced by Donald Ballou, executive director (far left). From left to right, holding the signs: Kaleb Hanson-Richart, special events chair; Cassidy Taylor, external director; AJ Rubino, fundraising chair; Maddy Kinard, internal director; Ariel Reed, finance director; Lauren Gardner, volunteer; Ariano Como, public relations chair. Donations are still being accepted until April 4.

Editor’s note: Several executive members of Dance Marathon are staff members of The Beacon.

On March 26, Dance Marathon at Wilkes University held a six-hour dance-a-thon in the McHale Athletic Center. By the end of the evening, donations reached $11,500, all going toward the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization that raises money to help benefit more than 10 million children in North America.

Donald Ballou, senior communication studies major and executive director of Dance Marathon, and Samantha Kennelly, development specialist of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, hosted the event and spoke to the audience about the goals of Dance Marathon. They introduced three Miracle Kids who would benefit from the fundraiser.

“It’s just insane for these students to come together,” said Kennelly. “This is a year-long fundraiser so the fact that they’re able to dedicate some of their time to help out some local kids in their community just means a lot to us.”

Kennelly introduced Saige LaCoe of Clarks Summit, Owen Kramer of Berwick and Rylee Bond of Bloomsburg. The children have each suffered from life-threatening and traumatic illnesses, and received help through the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

LaCoe, diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, was named the 2022 Janet Weis Miracle Child champion. Each child was given a gift basket by the Wilkes dance marathon committee. Students, Dance Marathon staff and other attendees kept the children entertained during the event, inviting them to participate in various activities.

The first major event was a dance lesson hosted by Wilkes’ dance team. Two captains of the team, Courtney Corona (senior) and Katie Ecker, (sophomore), energized the crowd of around 150 students and family members by teaching them a dance routine to Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop the Party.”

“It meant a lot to us to be involved in such an important cause with such an important meaning behind it,” said Corona. “We’re very thankful to the university and Children’s Miracle Network for involving us and the entire dance team in this event.”

The dance lesson was quickly followed by other activities. Attendees were able to let out their energy with volleyball, football, table tennis, basketball, yoga, playing “red light green light” and more. Students also lined up for a temple themed mobile escape room and Wilkes Adventure Education (WAE) activities, including rock climbing and rope obstacle courses. Not only were students eager to hook themselves up for the rope courses, but they also cheered on the Miracle Kids who participated.

“I think what’s so great about the ropes course is that it encourages people to be outside of their comfort zone and to try some things that are scary,” said Jill Price, coordinator of WAE. “From listening to Rylee give her speech it sounds like she and her family went through something that was really scary. It great was it today to see her challenge herself and do that.”

Dance Marathon was described as a unifying event on campus, a statement echoed by many, including Ballou. Several student and campus organizations and clubs attended, aided in funding or planning, donating or raising awareness. In addition to the dance team and WAE, Dance Marathon also received help from stud

ent development, programming board, the nursing department, student athletic teams, the table tennis club, tap dancing club and the gender-sexuality alliance.

Lexi Payne, student body president, saw Dance Marathon’s day-long event as a drive to motivate students to be more involved in the surrounding community. Student government offered $5,000 in aid for setting up, in addition to having several representatives present.

“I really appreciate this because I feel like we should be doing more, not only as the student body, but also for the outside community,” said Payne. “I know that we often put on events where it just impacts us students but I feel more outreach should be done.”

The closing ceremony was held around 8 p.m., where the current amount of money donated – $11,500 – was announced. This is nearly triple last year’s total of $4,425.

In addition, the Passan School of Nursing was the largest donor, contributing $5,000 to the total. The top three don

ors—Gabby Hann with a contribution of $520; Jodi Oleginski with $500; and Danielle Morris contributing $430—all received gifts for their donations. Lastly, before the night ended, a raffle was held for those who registered for the event.

The night ended with participants leaving with shirts, gifts, snacks and flyers. Dance Marathon is still aiming to raise awareness and donations for the cause, accepting donations until April 4.

“You can just tell how happy everyone is to be able to meet the Miracle Kids and be able to be there for them,” said Ballou. “In my welcoming speech, I mentioned how to think of it as a party for these Miracle Kids. I think everybody really took that to heart. Everybody has been doing really well with it. It made me so happy to see the amount of people participating.”

In order to donate to Dance Marathon, please click the following link: https://events.dancemarathon.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.event&eventID=4893