It was 11:59 AM, the morning of Sunday, February 18th. The final stretch until the big reveal. You just finished the last morale dance. At this point, you’re numb from the lack of sleep, but it doesn’t even matter because all of the hard work that you’ve put in these past months comes down to this single moment.
Samantha Gay and Eliza Kanner, the co-executives of HuskyTHON, go on stage to do their final announcements. Your heart is racing. The management teams lines up to release the final number. Every single person in the field house is staring at the stage, waiting for the clock to switch to noon. The number goes up and the field house erupts into cheers. Everyone around you is hugging and crying. We did it. We broke the million dollar goal.
Last weekend, the University of Connecticut made history for itself raising $1,021,485.37 for the children of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. This is UConn’s local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Hartford and is a free standing hospital, which means it runs solely off donations. HuskyTHON is the number one fundraiser for this hospital.
This year long fundraiser leads up to an 18 hour long dance marathon that takes place in the Hugh S. Greer Field House on UConn’s campus. All year, it was advertised that UConn needed to be #AllinForTheMillion for their goal to be achieved. Through countless fundraisers including pop-up shops selling clothing with the HuskyTHON brand and motto “For The Kids” on it, (not so) Late Nights selling breakfast foods, Nuggets for Nuggets Late Night selling actual McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and fundraisers at restaurants such as Tavern and Wally’s, the management team gave it their all to have as many opportunities to raise money for the kiddos.
The big “push” days to raise money were “Day of Strength”, also known as 130k day, where each HuskyTHON participant is challenged to raise $100 each and 130k as a community. UConn outdid itself this year, raising $166,236.
Different organizations sign up teams for the event. Greek life is a large majority of the participants, along with sports teams, cultural centers, and newly added this year, signing up as an individual.
At the top of each hour, the 10 minute long “morale dance” plays. Morale is the “hype team” for the marathon. They learn the dance beforehand and teach it to the dancers who are interested in learning it when you are there. I was lucky enough to be apart of Morale this year. This team was lead by Nick DiVanna and Nat Wickenheisser, who choreographed the dance and were in charge of teaching it to all 104 morale people and all of management.
During the remainder of the 50 minutes before the next dance, a HuskyTHON kid then shared their story on stage. Hearing what they have gone through and how HuskyTHON helped make it a little better, was so rewarding. All of those stories really connected the event with this kids, which in turn made HuskyTHON even more fulfilling.
After the kids or their parents would speak, the rest of the time would be spent dancing, hanging out, playing sports, riding a mechanical bull, and eating lots of food from different places like Chipotle, DP Dough and Dominos, and doing anything but sitting down, for 18 whole hours.
This year was the second year I fundraised for HuskyTHON, but the first year I didn’t danced as I was too sick the day of the event to participate last year. The amount of work that was put into it all year and seeing it all actually come into play noon on February 18th, was so rewarding and I would do it again in a heartbeat. UConn truly showed how All in For The Million and how For the Kids they were this year, and HuskyTHON 2019 won’t be any different.