One of the things I have mentioned throughout my blog posts this year has been Ohio State’s dance marathon, BuckeyeThon, that raises money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Students are not necessarily dancing the entire time (that would be impossible) but the students are on their feet for their entire 17 hours. Participants stand for the kids who cannot, and each hour on one’s feet represents one million children treated (the hospital treats 17 million children every year). The majority of the raised money goes to unpaid medical bills, because the hospital (one of the best in the nation) treats patients regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Many families would have lost their children to cancer if not for the hospital, and donations from organizations like BuckeyeThon.
My first BuckeyeThon was my sophomore year. I actually was not going to do it, because (prior to this year) it was a 14-hour dance marathon from noon-2am. That day I had worked an 8-hour shift at one of the campus dining locations and was tired, but I had promised my friend who was a Morale Captain (basically a team captain that keeps participants pumped up throughout the event) that I would attend. I didn’t get there until 10pm, but I fell in love with it in those 4 hours. My color team ended up winning, and I loved the experience. Ironically, I actually am not a kids person, but I knew I had to be more involved with the organization. A few months later, I applied to be a Morale Captain, and ended up being one for the next 3 years. The very first time I was a Morale Captain was technically my first time I did a full 14 hours … it was rough but a great experience.
This year was hard being a Morale Captain as a graduate student. I didn’t have the time to volunteer, really did not get to know any of the other members of the organization (which is one of the best things being involved with the organization), and always had class during meeting times. I almost felt useless until we actually had the event this year.
I had to be at the Ohio Union around noon this past Saturday to help with setup (the event was 5pm Saturday until 10am Sunday). This was the first year it was back at the Union, being in the Recreational Physical Activities Center while the Union was under construction. From the time I woke up that Saturday, until the time I went to sleep the next day I was awake for 26 hours (a marathon is 26 miles by the way). I was technically on my feet for more than 17 hours with running around, and doing things, and also had to relearn the Morale Dance. The Morale Dance is a compilation of songs that the Morale Captains put together and make a dance up to. It went with our theme Decades since this was the 10th anniversary of our dance marathon at OSU.
This is a video of our dance. It is a competition amongst the color teams of who does it the best (not the Morale Captains actually doing it). The guy on the far end in the pink and the girl in the yellow have it down the best.
I’ll try to sum up the actual dance marathon shortly. It was really hot, and the Union smelled like BO really fast due to all of the participants. It was really fun, and we were fed three times (got to save on meal money woo!). There were dance acts, Andrew Varner from The Big Bang Bar downtown came as an entertainment act, there was another singer by the name of Kelley James who came, a Mister BuckeyeThon pageant, tug of war, and a rave around 3am when everyone was ready to quit. I was doing good until about 4 am when my feet started to kill me. I was walking around funny, and even rinsed off my feet in one of the bathroom sinks in the Union thinking it would help (it was a temporary fix). As much as I wanted to sit down, I refused to.
In the morning, some of the families and patients from Nationwide Children’s Hospital came back for the final review of money raised. One of the most interesting patients was Luke. I will always remember him, because of his story. He was maybe 5 or 6, really small (maybe 3 feet something) and his parents told us that he had a tumor around his heart the size of his football (which would have practically been his entire chest). He was not medicated for many of the treatments they have had to give him and has had countless surgeries. When his mother told him that he had leukemia his response was “Oh, it has my name in it.” He is doing well right now, and loved BuckeyeThon, because all of these college students treated him as a hero.
When we finally got the numbers (which the steering committee members teased us twice) we raised $222, 518.17. Last year, was the first time we broke the six-figure mark (and we barely did making a little over $100,000). We more than doubled the amount of money raised last year, and are now the rank as the nation’s 7th best dance marathon (we were not even top ten last year). The best dance marathon, THON, at Penn State raised around $9 million this year for their charity and is the longest student-run philanthropy in the world. The only reason I state this fact is that THON is over 30 years old, whereas our organization is still young. It was at THON’s 10th anniversary where they broke the six-figure mark, where OSU did that in their 9th year. This year during our actual 10th year we blew our previous year’s total out of the water. Ohio State is well on its way to being the best dance marathon in the country.
This is a video the National Director of Dance Marathons made about our dance marathon
Even better for me, was that I was one of the Morale Captains for the WINNING COLOR TEAM. Every Morale Captain wants to have the most spirited team. I was so glad that we won, because I had not as an undergraduate. We had the smallest number of people still at the dance marathon, no Greek organization, and lost practically every sponsored event. The other Morale Captains and I were so surprised when we won. The dancers on our team had such a great time, and were ready for another 17 hours after we had first sit.
It was the best way to retire as a Morale Captain. It is too hard to be one as a graduate student anymore, and I feel old coming back when there are freshmen Morale Captains. I do not think I will dance (unless anyone in Fisher wants to do it) either, only for the fact that after being so involved for three years, I would not be able to fight the urge to get on the stage and not know what’s going on. I plan on visiting for many years to come, and hope that I will be able to donate money for the cause as I become a full-time working professional.