Nearly 3,000 students made their way to the field house this Saturday for UConn’s annual fundraising event, HuskyTHON, which raised $836,174.52. HuskyTHON is an 18-hour dance marathon that raises money for the Connecticut Children Medical Center, which has changed the lives of children all across Connecticut. HuskyTHON is a yearlong fundraising event that has become a staple of UConn student life.
Participants gathered on the floor of the field house before the event started, enjoying their last opportunity to sit for the next 18 hours. The walls were lined with posters bearing the names of each team’s HuskyTHON child, who all arrived at the event around 6 p.m. Each child was met with a round of applause as they crossed the HuskyTHON stage with their families, reminding participants of why this event was so important.
After the kids left the stage, the dance marathon was underway. Every hour was marked by a “morale dance,” where members of the management team and morale captains attempted to teach participants a dance to a compilation of new and old songs.
The morale dance was a great way to keep people enthusiastic throughout the night, said sixth-semester BME major Rima Viradia who told the Daily Campus, “As the time went on and I slowly started to learn the morale dance, I started to feel comfortable, as if I was at a family party.”
During the earlier hours of the night, most morale dances were followed by a story from a family who was thankful for the work of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Children and parents would tell their stories to HuskyTHON participants, and the difference CCMC has made in their child’s lives.
The HuskyTHON children and their parents would often thank HuskyTHON participants, grateful for the money and hope raised by the event. Jennifer Reinhard, an eighth-semester pharmacy student, felt touched by the parents, stating, “I am going to look back on this and realize that I did a really amazing thing. It makes a huge difference looking at the parents and how they feel about it, it makes such a difference in their lives… They’re so touched by how hard we work.”
Each hour had different activities like Zumba, a hypnotist, minute-to-win-it games, dance groups and student bands. These activities helped to build excitement, especially as HuskyTHON started to drag into the early hours of Sunday morning.
Just as participants were starting to slow down and feel the pain in their feet at four in the morning, the DJ played throwback songs like “Sugar Were Going Down Swinging” by Fall Out Boy, “All the Small Things” by Blink-182 and songs by the Backstreet Boys.
Suddenly the energy in the field house was reignited as students drew closer to HuskyTHON’s halfway point. Each hour also meant that the eating area would have a new assortment of food, including DP Dough, Insomnia Cookies, pasta and bagels in the morning.
It felt like no time at all before HuskyTHON began to draw to a close, with the kids returning in the morning to give participants the last push they needed to finish the event strong.
At 11 a.m., HuskyTHON participants gathered around in a large circle as the miracle children cut off participants bracelets.
This event was incredibly powerful and touching, feelings that were not lost upon eighth-semester secondary math education major Amber Croft. “When I first heard about it, I was like ‘Oh okay I can see why that would be emotional, but I don’t really understand why people cry’ but I was just overwhelmed, sobbing,” Croft said. “They had the music [a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”] playing and it’s just the end of putting in all this hard work, raising money. It was really emotional but in a good way.”
After the bracelets were cut off, participants rushed to the stage for the last morale dance and for the big reveal. Anticipation built as each number was revealed, leading to a thunderous explosion of cheers and clapping when it was revealed that this year’s HuskyTHON had far surpassed last year’s total of $716,394.58.
Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.