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Dance machines raise $222K

Jeff Barnett / Lantern photographer

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The 2011 BuckeyeThon’s fundraising more than doubled 2010’s record.

Last year’s dancers raised $100,823, but this year’s raised $222,518. The increase was due in part to a record amount of dancers — about 800.

BuckeyeThon is Ohio State’s 17-hour dance marathon requiring participants to physically stand in an effort to end childhood cancer. Proceeds go to the hematology/oncology floor of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network.

For the BuckeyeThon’s 10th Anniversary, dancers were not required to dance the entire 17 hours, but were asked to stand, said Jessica Burbach, a fourth-year in English and French and director of event operations.

“‘We stand for those who can’t’ — that’s our motto,” Burbach said.

The marathon was held for its first time in the Ohio Union, and in past years it lasted 14 hours.

“We chose 17 hours for the 17 million children treated at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals each year,” said Alexis Murray, a third-year in strategic communication and Spanish and director of marketing and public relations.

Murray said the organization wanted to expand and be more competitive with other dance marathons, like the annual 48-hour dance marathon held at Penn State.

The event took place in the Union’s Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom from 5 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

Dancers were required to raise $100 to participate and were categorized into eight color teams. Color teams gathered at the Union entrance hall chanting their team colors at 5 p.m. Their cheers roared to the top floor of the building. Dancers welcomed 16 children and their families from Nationwide to the party singing “Carmen Ohio.”

President E. Gordon Gee gave a welcoming speech.

“You guys are crazy … I’d dance with you but you’d get tired of seeing the Macarena,” Gee said. He then helped cut a yellow ribbon blocking the staircase to the ballroom.

Dancers stampeded up the staircase and formed a conga line in the ballroom, which had transformed into a club-like atmosphere with strobe lights and big screens.

BuckeyeThon received cash gifts from Time Warner Cable, Amway Global and the Credit Union of Ohio, which gave $5,000, said Mark Mangia, a third-year in medical technology and director of sponsorship.

“We also received in-kind gifts from more than 40 businesses and individuals … totaling up to over $30,000 in gift cards, services, performances and products,” Mangia said.

Color teams were led by morale captains who choreographed the traditional BuckeyeThon morale dance. Portions of the five-minute dance are taught throughout the event in hopes that dancers would know the entire five minutes by the end of the night.

This year’s morale dance was decade-themed.

Color teams earned points for individual awards, such as best dressed and most spirited dancers. Points were also earned in competitions, including tug of war, relay races and a Block O-sponsored Wii Madden tournament.

Kevin Duncan, a third-year in mathematics, said he “danced pretty hard the first four hours” of the marathon, so the events and competitions gave him a nice break.

The “Miss(ter) BuckeyeThon Competition,” a drag pageant between eight male students and faculty, was another first-time event for the BuckeyeThon.

Contestants were judged in four categories: a bathing suit competition, evening wear, talent and a question-and-answer portion. Special guest Zac Johnson, national dance marathon director, helped judge the competition.

Joe Flarida, a third-year in political science and public affairs, was dubbed “Miss(ter) BuckeyeThon,” contributing a few points to his color team. Flarida sported a purple “old lady” one piece for the bathing suit competition, danced for his talent and wore an old silver prom dress for his evening wear, Flarida said.

The black team earned the most points at the end of the marathon, awarding them the title of “most spirited.”

OSU student dance and singing groups provided entertainment and “The Fabulous Dance Doctors” were disc jockeys. Musicians Andrew Varner and Kelley James also preformed.

Sixteen children who are patients of Nationwide Children’s Hospital attended the event with the support of their families. Mordekai was the youngest child to attend at the age of 6 months and also brought the most guests, 11 people.

Mordekai was admitted into Nationwide on Thursday and was initially unable to attend BuckeyeThon, but his plans changed after being discharged on Friday, said Roxanne Melchiorre, a third-year in health and information management and director of family relations.

“My favorite part is getting to interact with the kids and hear their stories,” said Sarah Howard, a first-year in business.

BuckeyeThon was Howard’s first dance marathon.

Build-A-Bear Workshop donated teddy bears for the children. Bears were dressed in BuckeyeThon T-shirts with the children’s name on the back.

At the marathon’s closing ceremony, participants gathered into a “Circle of Hope” to sing “Carmen Ohio.” Dancers were given hospital bands to wear during the marathon in recognition of children with cancer. Children cut off dancers’ bands around the Circle of Hope at the marathon’s end.

Dancers then gathered in the middle of the dance floor to sing “Waving Flag” by K’naan while their color team flags waved above the crowd. They counted down the last minute of the experience and dancers fell to the floor at 10 a.m., relieving their feet from the 17-hour stand.

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