Dance marathons are a beautiful thing. It’s definitely hard for people who have not been involved in some sort of fundraising dance marathon in their lifetime to grasp just how great their effect is, but I’m here to tell you– the effect they can have is massive. Last week, I got the opportunity to attend Temple’s 2018 HootaThon and talk with two students here who hold major roles in making HootaThon such a success.
To give a brief history of HootaThon, according to their site, “In 2012, our founder, Gaelen McCartney, saw firsthand the impact Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) had on the lives of kids and their families. His older sister was a part of The Ohio State University’s BuckeyeThon and she had made a connection with a child whose first haircut post-chemotherapy treatment was a bright orange mo-hawk. From seeing the difference CMNH made on this child, and many others’ lives, he knew he wanted to bring that to Temple University. Within 6 weeks of him sharing this idea with other students and Temple, HootaThon was born.”
After fundraising and raising awareness through events all year, the participants hold an entirely student-run, twelve-hour dance marathon during which you cannot sit. They host activities, games, themed hours, and even invite children and families from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
I spoke with Brooke Schisler, the Director of Communications, and MaryAnn Thackrah, the Executive Director on the day of HootaThon 2018. Both ladies shared their love for HootaThon and the overall experience with me this year at the event.
“We spend all year raising funds and awareness for the Child Life Department at CHOP. It’s a program developed at CHOP that’s there to make sure that the kids are having a childhood while still in the hospital. They provide things like art therapy, pet therapy, music therapy, and really are just there to make sure that they are having a good time because they could be spending birthdays, Christmas, etcetera there,” Schisler said.
When asked about their monetary goal this year, Thackrah responded, “We’re going for a bit of a culture change in terms of just really focusing on the dancers that have fundraised already and making sure that they just feel so comforted in the fact that they have fundraised. It’s really a big thank you for them. The extra fundraising that happens in the middle of it is fantastic.”
Schisler added, “This year our theme for the overall year was to ‘Go Beyond,’ that’s been our hashtag on everything as well, so that also ties back into the monetary goal. It’s just to go beyond.”
The dance marathon along with its committees, dancers, and leaders raised an impressive amount of $465,533.79 for the kids at CHOP this year, which will aid in giving these children lots of fun to look forward to. A big congratulations to everyone involved!
You can follow their pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @HootaThon and for more information on how to get involved next year, check out their website.