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True Life: I’m friends with Taylor Swift

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

On February 20, UConn held its 17th annual 18-hour fundraising dance marathon, HuskyTHON. Along with raising a record setting amount of $716,394.58 for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the event was made even more special because of a donation made by none other than ten-time Grammy award winner, international pop sensation, and American sweetheart, Taylor Swift.

News that the pop star had donated spread quickly after student Igor Lekontsev got up on stage at HuskyTHON to announce to the crowd that his idol and new friend had supported HuskyTHON by donating to his account. Swift donated $1,989—a number that signifies her birth year and the name of her best-selling album, 1989, which won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards just earlier that week.

After the announcement, the room erupted in singing and dancing to Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” as many students felt touched that the star had donated to a cause that was so close to everyone’s heart. Although her donation may have come as a shock to many, those who knew Igor Lekontsev were not as surprised that something like this would happen.

“He is easily the biggest Taylor Swift fan I know. If anyone was going to meet her and have her donate to their HuskyTHON account, it’s him,” said Igor’s HuskyTHON teammate, Alyssa DeLaubell.

Students dance at HuskyTHON 2016. (Photo by Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

After following the pop-star for ten years through social media, attending numerous concerts, and creating a following on social media devoted to Swift, Lekonstev began building a name for himself among those who supported the pop star. Swift is known for being very close to her fans. Along with spending time with hundreds of fans after her concerts, she often invites fans over to her house for private jam sessions, has shown up at fans’ houses to give them gifts, and has surprised couples at their weddings. Knowing this, Lekontsev only hoped that one day he might be able to meet the star who had inspired him throughout the years and thank her for what her music has done for him.

On the morning of HuskyTHON, his dream came true when Swift personally FaceTimed him. Although she could not come to HuskyTHON in person because she was attending a close friend’s wedding in Pennsylvania (where she and the bride looked stunning), she said what a wonderful event HuskyTHON was, and that she was impressed by the number of UConn students that were going to dance for 18 hours straight in the middle of their busy midterm-filled semesters. She also wanted to show her support for the cause through donating to his HuskyTHON account later that night.


Lekontsev face timing with Swift. (Photo from his Twitter account)

We got the chance to ask Igor what this donation and experience with Swift meant to him. 

“I mean you guys know how much of a huge fan I am of Taylor so getting to talk to her was probably the best moment of my life. And then the fact that she donated to HuskyTHON to help the kids at Connecticut Children’s—really it couldn’t have been any better,” he said. “I was so touched that she was willing to reach out to me in the first place and and then to hear that she donated to a cause that is so important to UConn and so many kids out there was just an incredible feeling–it made me love and respect her even more.”

He spoke about why he idolizes the pop star.

“Taylor is such a kind and genuine person who truly cares about her fans–that’s one of the things I love most about her—so helping these kids like this is exactly the kind of thing that she would do,” he said. “Especially because many of the kids who go through Connecticut Children’s are probably Swift fans just like me, it makes the donation even more meaningful. After meeting some of these kids and hearing what they have gone through and how strong they have been, it is so amazing that we can help them like this.”

Swift’s donation helped inspired others to get involved with HuskyTHON, and really made Igor appreciate the experience even more.

“All of my friends were so excited when they heard what had happened. Some were even inspired by Taylor to donate to HuskyTHON too! This whole experience was more than I could have asked for. It just makes me feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing and supportive people,” said Igor. “This was my first year doing HuskyTHON and I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out. Even though it may be hard to top everything that happened this year, I’m so excited to help raise even more money next year.”

Swift’s donation and all of the money from HuskyTHON will go to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to help build the HuskyTHON Center of Procedural Excellence which is set to open this spring.

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Katie Lynch

U Mass Amherst

A Communications and Journalism Major at UMass Amherst