Lantern file photo
One group on campus allows students to groove to some jams, meet new people and watch performances all while raising money for a good cause.
BuckeyeThon is a student organization that hosts an annual 12-hour dance marathon in the Ohio Union, which raises money to help fund pediatric cancer care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Mark Mangia, president of BuckeyeThon and fourth-year in medical technologies, explained that the group raises money year-round and ends its philanthropic year with BuckeyeThon, the dance marathon event.
“Though we do quite a few fundraising events and some awareness activities to start building awareness throughout the student population to try to get them to come out for our event and fundraise for kids with pediatric cancer, we essentially culminate with our BuckeyeThon dance marathon event in February,” Mangia said.
Kaitlyn Boggs, student organization recruitment chair of BuckeyeThon and second-year in microbiology, said BuckeyeThon is the largest non-profit donor to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and third-largest profit donor behind Target and Walmart.
“It’s a party with a purpose,” Boggs said. “The more money we raise, the more miracles.”
The BuckeyeThon dance marathon event is primarily funded through the student activity fee each student pays at the beginning of every quarter and a $10 registration fee students pay to participate. Currently the student activity fee is $25 per quarter, per student.
In 2010, dancers raised $100,823. In 2011, BuckeyeThon raised $222,518.
They also hold various fundraisers throughout the year to help put it on. All donations raised by participants go to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
There is an online registration system through which students can register themselves, form teams and raise donations through an email feature. Mangia said that the majority of students involved in BuckeyeThon form teams from residence halls, fraternities or sororities, or other student organizations.
“We’re bringing together all sorts of communities at this university and pulling them together in this really exciting 12-hour event,” Mangia said.
“The majority of our folks who get in, register and start sending out those emails right away and start utilizing that Facebook integration that happens with the page have great success (in fundraising).”
Each dancer must raise $100 to participate. Mangia said that they wanted to banish the thinking that you have to donate big to make a big difference.
“There are a lot of perceptions that ‘I’m not Les Wexner and I can’t give $1,000 let alone $100 million,'” Mangia said. “But I can give $10 and some of my friends can give $10 and if we do this at a large scale, like we can at Ohio State, … there are a lot of things as a community we can do to still impact a child who has cancer.”
Attendance for BuckeyeThon 2011 was just shy of 800 students and lasted 17 hours, Mangia said. The group has started tracking registration and there are already more than 900 registrants for BuckeyeThon 2012, which will be held on February 25-26 from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The event was shortened this year to 12 hours.
“We listened to our student population and 17 hours is a long time,” Mangia said. “Twelve hours is also a significant commitment but we know we can deliver an event that is truly impactful.”
The main space for the event is in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom in the Ohio Union. Bands perform in the Performance Hall. Various games and activities occur in rooms in the basement, such as Zumba, which is an aerobic dance class. Patients from Nationwide Children’s Hospital are also invited to the event and OSU students can interact with them during BuckeyeThon.
“It’s very much a collective (event),” Mangia said. “The Union is BuckeyeThon. We’re very fortunate that our event is overnight so we can use everything.”
With so much going on, Mangia said it is hard to describe what the event BuckeyeThon actually is.
“As the years go on, I’ve found it’s harder to call ourselves a dance marathon,” Mangia said. “In all honesty, the central focus of our event is that we’re collectively coming together and dancing for a cause, but dancing is far from the only thing available to our attendees.
“Just as much as there is the opportunity for our students to be dancing, there is just as much if not more opportunity for them to be doing other things like service opportunities.”
Michael Orr, a second-year in welding engineering, said he attended BuckeyeThon last year and is looking forward to the event this year, for which he is a team captain for Barrett House.
“It’s a lot of fun to be a part of something that’s a lot bigger than myself,” Orr said. “Having everyone be there for the same cause and being there and meeting the kids with cancer means a lot.”
Mangia said the pay-it-forward message was the most important thing to take away from BuckeyeThon.
“The Ohio State experience doesn’t provide you any other large-scale philanthropic opportunity for you to engage in with your fellow students, nothing like BuckeyeThon,” Mangia said.