UConn students raise a record $1,520,234.98 for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in their annual HuskyTHON dance marathon. The dance marathon lasts 18 hours and is a show of solidarity and support for children effected by long-term illnesses. Photos by Eric Wang, Maggie Chafouleas, & Brandon Barzola/The Daily Campus
The University of Connecticut’s 18-hour dance marathon, HuskyTHON, raised a record-breaking $1,520,234.98 for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center over the weekend, passing last year’s record of $1,328,402.19.
More than 3,300 students making up more than 100 teams registered to participate in HuskyTHON this year, according to Marisa Nazzaro, vice president of communications for HuskyTHON.
More than 40 patient families were involved, including the “miracle children” who received treatment from Connecticut Children’s. Each miracle child was paired with one or more student teams to dance and hang out with. Teams made posters and signs for their respective children, greeting them before the opening ceremony.
A large flame lit with smaller candles with HuskyTHON’s “Brighten Tomorrow” slogan was displayed next to the stage inside the Hugh S. Greer Field House. Dancers who raised $50 during the event lit a candle, brightening the flame.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont sent a video for the event, played during the opening ceremony, commending students for “making a difference in these kids’ lives.” After the video, organizers read a declaration from Lamont naming Feb. 22, 2020 as HuskyTHON Day in Connecticut.
The HuskyTHON management team led the first morale dance during the opening ceremony, a 10-minute dance number all dancers participated in at the top of every hour.
The dance marathon was also used as a time to remember Cole Montefusco, a student who was actively involved in HuskyTHON as a morale captain. Montefusco died Feb. 1 in a car accident. The first candle on the HuskyTHON flame was lit in his memory. Organizer’s later announced Connecticut Children’s Foundation created a fund in his name. Montefusco was this year’s top student fundraiser.
Sixth-semester nursing major and morale captain Erin Sheridan said morale captains’ job is to get people excited before and during HuskyTHON, and to help dancers learn the morale dance.
Sheridan said she participates in HuskyTHON because kids deserve to live longer. “Kids should know that people care,” Sheridan said. “All kids deserve to be healthy.”
A hallway in the fieldhouse, the “Hall of Inspiration,” was hung with pictures of the miracle children, their age, favorite color and dream job. Families shared their emotional stories on-stage with dancers on how Connecticut Children’s and HuskyTHON has impacted their lives and the lives of others at CCMC.
Activities included inflatable games, basketball and volleyball, a yoga session, Zumba and crafts for the kids. Many students changed outfits to coordinate with designated themes every few hours, like beach and Disney themes.
Some participants donated eight or more inches of hair to Children With Hair Loss. Haircuts were offered on-stage by Headliners Salon and Spa during the marathon.
Student musicians, acapella groups and dance groups performed, including the student band Kids That Fly.
Erin Matthews, an eighth-semester biology major and member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi dance team said this was her fourth HuskyTHON, and she plans on donating to HuskyTHON after graduation. She said giving back to the community makes it all worth it.
“It allows me to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Matthews said.