Every year, thousands of University of Connecticut students partake in a nonstop 18-hour dance marathon. This event is part of HuskyTHON and is the culmination of a year-long fundraiser for the Children’s Medical Network Hospitals. HuskyTHON will be unveiling its new campaign video across all of social media at 12 p.m. on Oct. 1.
“Participating in HuskyTHON is a unique experience, as you are able to hear and see how your hard work and dedication throughout the year truly makes a tangible impact on the lives of our Miracle Families directly from the parents and kids themselves,” Emma Kryzanski, a seventh-semester physiology and neurobiology major and HuskyTHON Executive Director, said.
According to seventh-semester elementary education major and HuskyTHON Vice President of Communications Marisa Nazzaro, “Brighten Tomorrow” varies from last year’s campaign, “Raise Them Up.” “Raise Them Up” focused on the idea of growth in the minds of participants. Whether it was setting higher expectations and exceeding them or growing both financially and as an organization, HuskyTHON wanted its participants to focus on becoming bigger and better. However, “Brighten Tomorrow” aims to shift their focus onto the immediate impact that HuskyTHON makes on the lives of participants and Miracle Families.
“The work we are doing today is impacting the possibilities of tomorrow and we plan to build a brighter tomorrow for the next generation of changemakers,” Nazzaro said.
One of HuskyTHON’s newest initiatives is the HuskyTHON Rising Leaders. The program will allow first-time participants to partake in workshops that will prepare them for the dance marathon, how to most effectively fundraise and how to get involved.
Last year, HuskyTHON had just over 100 teams and over 3,000 participants. This year, HuskyTHON hopes to invite more organizations to participate in order to increase diversity amongst participants. Nazzaro said that there is a stigma surrounding HuskyTHON, in that it’s exclusive to Greek life. From Tier III organizations to cultural centers to club sports, HuskyTHON is making an effort to better represent the population of those treated at Connecticut Children’s amongst its participants.
“With a strategic plan on how to better engage more niches of our campus, we hope to create a community that is representative of the diverse population treated at Connecticut Children’s,” Kryzanski said.
According to Kryzanski, HuskyTHON began in 2000. It was known as Husky Midnight Marathon and dancers raised $13,878. HuskyTHON’s success grew slowly at first, but reached a new milestone in 2008 when the total amount fundraised jumped from an average of $15,000 to over $56,000. In 2018, HuskyTHON reached another milestone when it raised over $1,000,000. During HuskyTHON 2019, dancers built their success by raising a grand total of $1,328,402.19.
Students can participate as a dancer, dancer representative or as a volunteer. Dancers fundraise throughout the year and dance in the marathon Night-Of. Dancer representatives lead a team in fundraising as a group, work with the organization to communicate between teams and host the team’s Miracle Family on the Night-Of. Volunteers still fundraise but commit to a shift in which they facilitate the logistics of the marathon Night-Of.
Participants raise money in various ways. They can raise money by sharing their personal link on social media, canning outside of local grocery stores or by hosting local restaurant fundraisers. To participate as a dancer, participants must raise a minimum amount but members of the public can enter as long as they contribute a donation at the door. HuskyTHON has not confirmed a date for this year’s dance marathon, but it will take place in February.
“Tomorrow is our blank slate — our chance to break new records, set higher expectations, and dream bigger dreams,” Nazzaro said. “We are committed to a tomorrow where our miracle children are leaders, innovators, and fighters. A tomorrow where everything they dream about has the chance to become a reality. A tomorrow where our legacy of miracle making is continually built upon and one where we know that the kids we help today are the ones who help others tomorrow.”
Brandon Barzola is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.