Some Ohio State students danced and fundraised their way to collecting more than $767,000 for children in need this weekend.
Participants in BuckeyeThon raised $767,277.78 for Nationwide Children’s Hospital during the 24-hour dance marathon Friday and Saturday.
In its 13th year, the event sponsors children being treated in the Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network, according to its website.
Suraj Hinduja, president of BuckeyeThon, said he was in disbelief when the amount of money raised was revealed Saturday.
“To think that we just exceeded our goal that our members have put their lives, hearts and souls into everything we have just done – that’s what speaks volumes to me,” said Hinduja, a fourth-year in special education.
BuckeyeThon consisted of two 12-hour shifts that attracted more than 3,000 participants total at the Ohio Union, according to a BuckeyeThon press release.
The first shift was from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday, and the second shift started at 11 a.m. Saturday and ended after the final amount raised was revealed at 11 p.m.
The founder of BuckeyeThon and an OSU graduate, Rosa Ailabouni, said 140 people attended the first ever BuckeyeThon event in 2001 and $3,200 was raised.
“The idea came from wanting to bring the Ohio State community together, and also wanting to bring Ohio State together with the Columbus community,” Ailabouni said.
She said Saturday she was in awe of the money raised this year.
BuckeyeThon participants raised nearly $159,000 more than the 2013 event, where about $608,600 was collected. Hinduja said he hopes participants can increase the number of donations next year, too.
“I have no doubt in my mind that they will continue to break barriers,” Hinduja said.
Two other universities also held dance marathons to raise money for hospitals in Children’s Miracle Network over the weekend. University of Connecticut students raised $457,581.04 at HuskyTHON, and Dance Marathon at University of Michigan participants raised $446,399.57.
Students had to raise a minimum of $100 to participate.
During registration, students have the option to sign up as a team with student organizations they are members of or with their residence halls. Teams are assigned to one of eight colors.
Each team supports children like Josh Wade, who has overcome a birth defect to his intestinal tract with multiple surgeries.
Josh has attended BuckeyeThon the past five years with his mother Lisa, and said he wants to go to OSU when he is older.
“I’m going to be a Buckeye,” Josh said. “I want to be the Buckeyes’ ice hockey coach.”
Students sported tutus, fanny packs and other mono-colored outfits as they continued to raise money up until an hour before the final reveal.
Adam Pemberton, a third-year in marketing, was on the Mack and Canfield residence hall team and said this was his first BuckeyeThon.
“I used to be the mascot at my old college (Cincinnati State Technical and Community College), so I really love dancing,” Pemberton said. “It brings a lot of joy to me to make other people smile.”
This year’s BuckeyeThon wasn’t the first for students like Katelyn Kraft, a second-year in early childhood education.
“We (Kraft and a friend) did it last year and it was awesome, we loved it,” Kraft said. “I want to do it every year. I’m only a sophomore so I want to do the next two years as well.”
BuckeyeThon had different activities to keep participants’ energy up including Zumba, hair cutting for donation and Olympic-themed games.
The Aveda Institute gave free haircuts for those who wished to donate their locks. Participants could have anywhere from 3 to 12 inches of hair cut off, which was then donated to Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids.
“We’re raising 600 inches of hair,” said Meg Harpe, an educator at the Aveda Institute. “I’ve actually seen people want to donate more hair (than they originally planned to) when they sit down.”
Hannah Jones, a second-year in social work, donated 8 inches of hair.
“I’ve always wanted to donate my hair,” Jones said. “When I found out there was the opportunity here for it, I thought, ‘That’s awesome, let’s take advantage of it.’”
Hinduja said the planning for this year’s event started a week after BuckeyeThon 2013.
“You wake up every morning and get back to it, because you believe so much in the cause,” Hinduja said. “You believe in the kids. They deserve the best. They deserve a childhood.“