HuskyTHON, the University of Connecticut’s annual dance marathon and fundraising effort in support of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, raised over one million dollars this weekend.
After working all year to fundraise, with a final push towards the end of the event, the grand total raised for 2018’s HuskyTHON was $1,021,485.37.
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is just one of 170 hospitals throughout the United States and Canada that comprise the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, according to the program’s website.
All of the funds raised through various fundraisers and marathons similar to HuskyTHON go directly towards each school’s local Children’s Miracle Network hospital, which are nonprofit organizations, according to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital website.
The hospitals treat everything from childhood cancer, genetic diseases or serious injury to premature babies.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s first marathon began in 1991 at Indiana University following the death of fellow student Ryan White, who died at the tail end of the AIDS epidemic, according to the website.
The 18-hour dance marathon, HuskyTHON began at UConn in 2000, raising $13,878 in its first year, according to the organization’s website.
In 2017, 2,320 students participated in HuskyTHON, making it the second-largest event to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, according to the website.
This year, about 3,000 students spread across 101 registered teams participated.
Each team was assigned at least one Miracle Network child, some two, for a total of 48 children patients or survivors there to cheer on the students.
For UConn, the highest-fundraising teams include HuskyTHON’s morale team, the management team and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, according to the event’s website. Each team raised $157,226.70, $61,233.10 and $60,114.00 respectively.
Those students who earn over $1,000 are considered members of the “comma club.”
The highest-earning individual of 2018 HuskyTHON was Kevin Fitzpatrick, a member of the 2018 morale team, who raised $15,606.
In total, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ dance marathons at schools across the country have raised more than $200 million since they began in 1991, according to the website.
According to HuskyTHON’s website, at each Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, “62 children are treated by highly trained professionals every minute,” which is about one child every second.
For HuskyTHON morale captain Emily Gombotz, these numbers are significant.
As a morale captain, Gombotz is tasked with “enthusiastically inspiring others to get involved in HuskyTHON throughout the year, as well as exciting fellow dancers during the event itself,” according to the website.
The most important job of the morale team during the 18-hour event is to lead the participants in a 10-minute dance performed each hour on the hour.
Gombotz, a fourth-semester molecular and cell biology pre-med major, danced for HuskyTHON as a member of the team of her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta’s team.
Maintaining high morale throughout the 18 hours is challenging, but Gombotz said when her energy wanes she thinks of the children who are at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center currently.
“A lot of them are fighting for their lives, and I know for sure that my complaining about not being able to sit for 18 hours is nothing to what those kids are going through,” Gombotz said.
Gombotz’s involvement in HuskyTHON stems from her intended career path as a pediatric oncologist and her own experience at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center over Thanksgiving break.
“When I came to UConn I knew I wanted to be a doctor but quickly got defeated by how hard my classes were,” Gombotz said. “I considered switching majors but then HuskyTHON 2017 came around. I met Abbie, our miracle child, and she immediately reminded me why I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist in the first place.”
Gombotz realized she wishes to be the doctor who helps these children say they have been cancer-free for 10, 20 or more years.
In 2017, UConn ranked tenth in money raised through dance marathons for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In reaching over one million dollars for this year’s event, the university’s ranking should be raised, all for the kids.
Abby Brone is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.