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Dancing Eags: Class Council Brings Dance Marathon to BC

With the advent of the Class Councils program this year, the students and administrators involved were challenged with uniting the different classes for a common cause. Their response? Let’s dance.

BC’s Dance Marathon will take place on April 22 from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. in the Flynn Recreation Complex. Nithya Damodharan, co-chair of Sophomore Class Council and MCAS ’18, noted that Dance Marathon will be the only event at the Plex that begins before it closes and ends after it reopens the next day.

The 12 hours will be separated into four themes—neon, red, white, and blue, Hawaiian, and BC spirit—each accompanied by respective music, food, and decorations. Giveaways and raffles will run concurrently. Performances will be given by student groups like Full Swing, Masti, and Irish Dance.

Children being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital will also attend for two hours in the morning for the closing ceremonies, where they will be able to interact with Baldwin the Eagle and the pom and cheer squads. Four families will each be partnered with a different class and will wear the class colors and introduce themselves to the students. They can choose to dance in the designated family area or to spread out. One child is scheduled to lead the crowd in Simon Says, his favorite game.

Emmy Ye, the Sophomore Class Council social chair, the director of BC’s Dance Marathon, and MCAS ’18, added that the event’s closing will include a reveal of how much money was raised.

All of the money raised around the event, including the $15 registration fee, will go toward the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Fund, which the hospital uses as it deems necessary for medical causes not covered by insurance. Most recently, it has funded a new asthma-education campaign and a program for child life specialists who guide parents through their children’s extended treatment processes, as well as games, clowns, and research.

“We’re raising money for those extra things that aren’t covered by what insurance might think is necessary for treatment…all of these things that make kids feel better even though they might not be surface-level that important,” Ye said.

Dance Marathon is an initiative of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals which began in 1991 at Indiana University in the memory of a student who died from HIV/AIDS. Dance Marathons nationwide have since collectively raised over $135 million, all given to local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

Dance Marathon has a history at BC itself but had been on hiatus for years before a representative from Boston Children’s Hospital approached the Office of Student Involvement (OSI). OSI, which directs the Class Councils and started them this year, approached them with the proposal, which they expected to be too much to organize in one year, suggesting instead a debut in the spring of 2017.

“We thought it fit perfectly in with the Class Councils program because it’s an opportunity for service, involvement, and philanthropy that anyone on BC’s campus can be involved in,” said Brooke Goodman, an M.A. candidate in Higher Education Administration and a graduate assistant for Student Engagement in OSI.

But Ye reached back out to the coordinator from the hospital and began creating a framework for the Marathon as early as October. Damodharan sees the purpose of the event not only as an endeavor of service but as an opportunity to unite students from different classes.

“When Sophomore Class Council was founded this year, it became part of our thing to figure out—what can we do to create class unity, and what can we do for the entire school to rally behind and get involved in?” she said.

Ye said that she places particular importance on this year’s Dance Marathon because it is the type of event that will guide the future focus of Class Councils.

BC’s new Dance Marathon committee found local help in starting its new program. Several universities nearby hold Dance Marathons, and many of the committee members attended Emmanuel College’s for inspiration. The New England Dance Marathon network also keeps in touch with monthly phone calls to offer support. Both a Boston-based liaison from the Dance Marathon division of the Children’s Miracle Network and the liaison from the Boston Children’s Hospital will be in attendance throughout BC’s event.

Dance Marathon will be hosted by Sophomore Class Council every year, although it remains an initiative of all four classes. In addition to the Sophomore Council representatives, Dance Marathon has been an effort of over 60 volunteers working in the divisions of event operations, dancer relations, public relations and marketing, and finance.

“Having participated in Dance Marathon at Marquette, where I went to undergrad, and knowing what that experience is like, I can’t wait to see how they feel,” Goodman said. “It’s an amazing experience and one that I’m very excited for them to have.”

Damodharan, Ye, and Goodman feel that this year’s Dance Marathon will be a way to introduce students to the idea as well as to show how they can conduct service locally.

“We’re a very activist student body, and we try to give back. We’re men and women for others,” Damodharan said. “I feel like the point of Dance Marathon is [that it’s] another outlet for us to give back to our local community. You can see the change that we’re making in each one of these kids’ lives. It’s about raising awareness and having an amazing time doing it.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

April 10, 2016