International pop star Taylor Swift made a donation of $1,989 to UConn’s annual HuskyTHON charity dance marathon Saturday on behalf of a UConn student and long-time devoted fan.
Fresh off winning Album of the Year at this month’s Grammys for her album, “1989,” Swift made the contribution matching the album’s title to the donation page of Igor Lekontsev, a fourth-semester accounting major.
The donation was one of many that will benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center as a part of this year’s HuskyTHON event, an annual dance marathon held to raise money for the center.
Lekontsev said he first garnered Swift's attention through a Taylor Swift fan page on Tumblr he created and titled, “Imtheblankspace,” which he said Swift has followed for about a year.
Lekontsev, who said it had been his longtime goal to get in contact with Swift, said Swift surprised him by FaceTiming him on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 20.
“I literally had no idea about her contacting me until she did it,” Lekontsev said. “I couldn’t have prepared for this two months ago.”
The two talked about her music and his admiration for her, Lekontsev said, before Swift eventually brought up the topic of HuskyTHON, which he believes the singer found out about his involvement with online.
Swift told him she planned to donate during the conversation, he said. Then, around the event’s commencement at 6 p.m. Saturday, Lekonstev received a contribution from a donor under the name Taylor Swift.
“Anything can happen – never give up,” Lekontsev said of meeting Swift. “If you want to meet someone you idolize, it can happen.”
Members of the HuskyTHON management team confirmed the sizable donation that added to a night of contributions they hope will break $700,000, which would surpass last year’s donations of over $560,000.
“HuskyTHON is great and everyone should try to do it. It’s a great way to see the kids [the donations] are affecting, seeing the smile on their faces,” Lekontsev said, adding that although Swift’s donation clearly had a positive impact on him, its impact on the Connecticut Childen’s Medical Center was of greater importance.
Eighth-semester senior allied health major and long-time Swift fan Maria Blois, said she “freaked out” when she heard the news.
“I think it’s going to be huge for HuskyTHON in the years to come – especially now that she knows about it,” said Blois, who also participated as a dancer. “Who knows what will happen next year?”
HuskyTHON’s vice president of recruitment Mackenzie Lowers said she “could’ve never imagined this ever happening.”
“It doesn’t seem real,” Lowers said.