HuskyTHON 2022 surpasses last year’s total ‘For the Kids’ 

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On April 2, after 18 long hours of dancing amidst chill temperatures on the Founders’ Green, the HuskyTHON 2022 management team hoisted the final campaign total for all to see: $1,340,670.78, surpassing last year’s total by almost $300,000. From 6 a.m. on Saturday until midnight, a record-breaking 3,600 registrants, along with patients from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, their families and other members of the University of Connecticut community participated in the 18-hour dance marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Hartford, Conn. 

“I am so inspired by this community,” Abbey Conrad, an eighth-semester marketing major and executive director of HuskyTHON 2022, said in an email. “I never could have dreamed that over 3,600 students would come together and dance for 18 hours straight for a group of kids they don’t even know…I cannot wait to see what this community does in the coming years.” 

This year brought about a few more changes for the 22-year-old organization that has raised over $8.7 million for Connecticut Children’s, but participants adjusted as they did last year

“Prior the pandemic, HuskyTHON was held in the [Hugh S. Greer] Fieldhouse, from 6 p.m. on Saturday to noon on Sunday, and in 2021, we split our hybrid event into two nine-hour days over the span of a weekend,” Rachel Lamore, an eighth-semester marketing and Spanish major, said. She serves as vice president of communications for HuskyTHON 2022. “Our participants seemed to really enjoy getting to be outside and having the majority of the event take place during the day rather than overnight.” 

HuskyTHON 2022 Vice President of Membership Grace Harrington further explained the logistical adjustments to the dance marathon. 

“We’ve never done an event outside to this scale,” Harrington, an eighth-semester accounting major, said. But honestly, I’m just so proud of what the management team was able to do to get everyone together…We had a little over a month to plan a whole outside event and I’m really proud, because it’s going absolutely amazing.” 

Before announcing the final total, the management team reminded attendees of the “miracle children” they raise money for who were in attendance. The miracle children receive treatment from Connecticut Children’s and are paired with one or more student teams to dance with and support. 

“Our mission started with our miracle kids and others at Connecticut Children’s just like them. To our miracle kids, your strength, love and hope have inspired a movement,” they said. 

A completely student-run philanthropic campaign, UConn students participate in HuskyTHON based on their level of commitment, with 30 individuals leading the management team, as well as morale captains, captains, dancer representatives, dancers and volunteers. Dancers may also be recognized for how much money they raise. For example, students join the Comma Club when they raise $1,000 or more, giving them a spot on a “Wall of Inspiration.” 

“The second I joined [HuskyTHON] I fell in love with the community and the purpose behind it,” McKenzie Ray, a sixth-semester allied health sciences major who joined as a freshman at the behest of upperclassmen friends, said. She serves as a HuskyTHON morale captain and special events and volunteers captain: “…[E]veryone here cares so much about the kids and can make such an impact. It’s really inspiring to be a part of such a group that does something like that.” 

This year introduced the Rising Leaders development program for first-time participants “to go behind-the-scenes and experience the planning that goes into HuskyTHON. 

“This year, I wanted to hit the ground running, so I joined HuskyTHON Rising Leaders,” said Aayush Chopra, a fourth-semester biomedical engineering major and Undergraduate Student Government dance representative in addition to a HuskyTHON Rising Leader. “I’ve also been interested in pediatrics so I wanted to learn more about how children fight everyday in hospitals around the country.” 

Chopra wanted to create a HuskyTHON team for USG members to be involved and support the cause. 

“I had a great time leading the team and learning more about HuskyTHON and the Miracle Children as the year went on,” Chopra said. “HuskyTHON is easily the highlight of my year. I would encourage everyone to become involved with their friends, whether it be as a dancer or in a leadership position. The memories you’ll make will be some of the best at UConn.” 

One of USG’s dancers, Ramya Rajesh, echoed Chopra’s sentiments as a first-time HuskyTHON participant. 

“It’s been an incredible experience,” Rajesh, a tenth-semester political science major, said. “I think the camaraderie that everyone displayed in terms of the morale dancing and when it came to the last moment and holding hands, taking off the bracelets, that was really cool.” 

Rajesh referred to the “Circle of Hope” at 11 p.m., in which dancers symbolically cut bracelets from their wrists to represent Connecticut Children’s patients’ experiences. 

“This bracelet symbolizes the pain, the struggles and the battles that all of the families here right now and the families across the nation went through…The cutting of these hospital bands symbolizes the hope that one day there will be no terminal illnesses. And that there will be no more sick children,” the management team announced. “But until that day, we will dance for that hope. We will dance for every single child and family that has walked through the doors of Connecticut Children’s. Most importantly, we will dance for those who can’t. Although we are cutting these bands off, our commitment to stay by their side is never ending. Through ups and downs, HuskyTHON will be there for every kid. By their side, we can create a world where kids free of hospital bands have the freedom to just be kids.” 

The Daily Campus checked in with the dance marathon amidst a packed schedule including the opening ceremony at 6 a.m.; sunrise and sunset yoga; performances by a cappella group Notes Over Storrs, the UConn Dance Team and student band Wavy McGrady; outdoor activities like Kan Jam and spikeball; a welcoming of the miracle children families; and the hourly morale dances that all dancers learned prior to the marathon. Members of the Leadership Learning Community were still going strong in the afternoon. 

“I think the energy that everyone brought today since six in the morning has just woken me up,” Maddy Doyle, a fourth-semester political science and sociology major, said. In her first year participating in HuskyTHON, she served as the LLC’s team captain. “It has been a really cool experience to dance with the UConn community. We [the LLC team] were able to raise over $3000.”  

Dance representative for the LLC team Madison Perry chimed in with her team captain about being fully involved in such a “great experience.” 

“I mean being a freshman [dance representative] is really rare, so I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and I’m really surprised by the hype, all day since 4:30,” Perry, a second-semester music education major on the pre-teaching track and a dance representative for Doyle’s LLC team, said. 

Other HuskyTHON dancers also discussed the impact of participating in HuskyTHON. Dancer Jide Anifowoshe further spoke about helping out others, while Dominick Garcia discussed their personal connection to the experience. 

“A society only works when people want to help each other,” Anifowoshe, a second-semester ACES major, said. 

“For me personally, I have cousins who have been at [Connecticut C]hildren’s hospital before, and I feel like this is just an amazing way to give back to the community,” Garcia, a second-semester pharmacy major, said. “This is my first HuskyTHON, so this is almost really life-changing because it’s just all these people coming together for one cause.” 

Harrington also spoke about how she thought the event was going, saying that the energy of this year’s Huskython could not be matched.  

“It’s awesome, the energy is unbelievable,” Harrington said. “We’re just incredibly happy that everyone came out and I’m really proud of our community for rallying around the children that need it the most.”  

In her fourth and final year of participating in HuskyTHON, Lamore hopes to see the organization expand across all UConn campuses and throughout the state. 

“Our goal is to get the entire UConn community involved; from student organizations to learning communities and culture centers to regional campuses, we would love to see every UConn student contribute to our mission to get kids at Connecticut Children’s the care they deserve.” 

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