A sea of people wearing an eclectic mixture of tie-dyed shirts, fluffy tutus and scuffed athletic shoes packed the Ohio Union on Friday and Saturday night to participate in BuckeyeThon’s annual dance marathon, which raised more than $1.2 million dollars for children affected by pediatric cancer.
Students participating in the 14th BuckeyeThon dance marathon this weekend exceeded their goal of collecting $1 million in donations, raising a total of $1,231,290.11.
BuckeyeThon, an Ohio State student philanthropic organization founded in 2001, hosts events throughout the year that raise money for the families of children treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Students were required to raise a minimum of $100 to participate in the dance marathon, which consisted of two 12-hour shifts. 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 funds raised by dancers, virtual dancers and volunteers will go toward assisting families pay for their children’s medical treatments. The money will also be used to purchase items for the Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network, according to the BuckeyeThon website.
The event kicked off with an opening ceremony that featured speeches from OSU President Michael Drake, Dr. Steve Allen, the CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Jim O’Brien, the president of BuckeyeThon and a fourth-year in biology.
“Your support and dedication is one of the many things that make me so humble to be a part of the greatest student body in the nation,” O’Brien said at the opening ceremony on Friday. “So I want to thank you all for being here. Thank you all for being something bigger than yourself, thank you for dancing for those who can’t and thank you for being a part of this one team with this one dream of raising one million dollars for the kids.”
Kyle Ellison, a fourth-year in welding engineering, was one of more than 5,100 students who registered for the 24-hour dance marathon. Ellison said he has participated in the event for the past four years.
“It’s not just for my family and friends that have been affected by this illness, it’s for all of the people who this illness affects. It’s for them. It’s for the kids, too, but it’s also for the awareness as a whole,” he said. “Being able to see the kids and their families (is what I enjoy most). It’s really powerful to see how they’re staying tough throughout the whole illness and everything that they have to go through with it.”
Meredith Orozco, a second-year in speech and hearing science, and Maya Prabhu, a second-year in neuroscience, said they met at BuckeyeThon last year and were excited to return this year.
“I just had so much fun last year dancing all night and raising money for the kids. Last year I did the day shift and I just wanted to go one step further and do the night shift,” Orozco said.
Prabhu agreed and added that she hopes more people decide to donate and participate in years to come.
“I would say (to students who are hesitant to participate), think about all the people that you are helping and think about the kids that you will be helping,” she said. “You’re impacting so many lives just by raising some money. It’s really easy and it’s really life-changing.”
The amount of money raised at this year’s BuckeyeThon was about $464,000 more than last year, where approximately 3,000 participants raised more than $767,000. In 2013, about $608,600 was raised.
University leaders and students shared their thoughts on the weekend at the closing ceremony Saturday night.
“This is an amazing experience. You have decided to be the best that you can be,” said Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of Student Life, at the closing ceremony. “You didn’t have to have this matter, but you have shown us over and over again your commitment and the power you have to make a change.”
Leo de Andrade, a second-year in computer science who was dancing on behalf of Off The Lake Productions, a student-run musical theater group at OSU, said he had been optimistic that the $1 million goal would be reached this year.
“I honestly thought (we would beat the goal), but not by so much,” he said.
De Andrade said he hopes to continue to donate more and participate next year.
Jaimi Jutras and Bruce Thomas contributed to this article.
For more on this story, watch Logan Hickman’s video below.