This past Sunday, I stood in the Hugh S. Greer Fieldhouse with around 3,000 other students as the total amount of donations to HuskyTHON was revealed. After 18 hours at the dance marathon, the fieldhouse was filled with strong emotions as people anxiously waited to see if, for the first time ever, UConn had managed to raise more than $1 million for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. In case you missed it, we did hit that goal. In fact, UConn managed to raise $1,021,485.37.
Like many of the people standing there, this wasn’t my first time staying for all 18 hours at HuskyTHON. It wasn’t even my first HuskyTHON. During the last two years, I had stayed for all 18 hours. The year before those two, I had attended for six hours from around two a.m. till eight a.m. This year, however, something was a little different. I wasn’t attending on behalf of the Daily Campus. For the first time in my five years at UConn, I was actually participating in UConn’s famous 18 hour dance marathon.
The idea to form a team was initially thought of back in October when a group of Goal Patrol members were chilling out in the Union after a soccer match. Of the like 10 people sitting around, only one person had actually participated in the marathon before. After some round about yes’s and no’s, a team of seven people was formed. The idea was that we would represent the soccer student section and figure out some unique way to fundraise. We eventually decided to design some cool soccer scarves and sell those to raise money as a team. We would all be responsible for our own shares, of course.
Fast forward to the beginning of February, and our team was in sorry shape. We had raised almost no money. The scarf sale fell through because not enough people ordered. One of our team members had dropped the team and another had dropped out of UConn. And then we found out that if we didn’t each hit our minimum, we wouldn’t get to eat during the 18 hours. So frantic fundraising began. I don’t know how it all managed to work out, but somehow five of us walked into Greer on Saturday.
And then I experienced the best and most fulfilling 18 hours of my UConn career. Sure, everything hurt like hell and there was a very large need for caffeine. But what I was going through was nothing compared to what the kids we were dancing for had gone through and would continue going through.
HuskyTHON is an event filled with happiness, exhaustion, sadness; a wide array of raw emotion. There are moments where you want to leap for joy and other times when you want to curl into a ball and cry. For the past three years, I attempted to capture all of those emotions in my photographs. I tried to tell every child’s and every participant’s story. Everyone dances for a slightly different reason, and I wanted to show that.
I learned while standing there, however, that not every moment can be captured for others to experience. You can take an amazing photo with an amazing caption and it can kind of tell the story of what happened. But some stories can only be told by experiencing the event yourself.
I started writing this column because I wanted to show the campus why I do what I do. I wanted people to understand what goes through my head when I’m covering an event and how that will shape my future. Apparently opting to not run around with my camera for 18 hours taught me something new. As a storyteller, you don’t need to cover everything. Sometimes you just need to walk out from behind your camera and join in.