Dance marathon raises funds for Dell Children’s Medical Center

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Freshman Matthew Kelley, right, slow dances with freshman Anjali Sethi after a silent moment at the Texas Thon in Gregory Gym Saturday night. Thon participants raised over $50,000 for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas by standing for 12 consecutive hours.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Students from across campus came together Saturday to “stand for children who cannot stand for themselves.”

That is the motto of the Texas THON, an annual campus fundraiser benefiting the patients of the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. The event involved student volunteers who remained active on two legs for 12 straight hours as they participated in various themed activities. This year’s theme was reality TV, and events included a “Jersey Shore” contest, a pretend NASCAR race and a ballroom dancing lesson. The event raised $50,839.51, a campus record.

The Texas THON is a part of a similar network of events taking place on campuses nationwide to benefit hospitals that are part of The Children’s Miracle Network.

Kip Holmes, program director for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, said the event has evolved from the traditional dance-off theme that these fundraisers began with into something more relatable for today’s students.

“A lot of students don’t want to come to a dance-off anymore,” Holmes said. “We still have dancing, but there are so many other activities where the students don’t have to dance at all. Anyone can participate.”

Katie Raymond, English senior and event chair, said the event contained dozens of activities, along with free food and merchandise. Local sponsors included Rudy’s Texas Bar-B-Q, Texas Land and Cattle, Panda Express and Austin’s Pizza.

“So many groups participate,” Raymond said. “It’s students from all across campus and local groups working for the cause.”

Among attendees were some of the patients and their families. These families spoke throughout the event about their positive experiences with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and The Children’s Miracle Network.

Marlie Frasier, a child patient and THON participant, said the event is a fun way for the community to help the hospital.

“I am dancing so that the hospital can help children like me,” she said. “It’s so cool and so much fun.”

Rhonda Cox, faculty advisor of the event, said although Texas THON has expanded rapidly in recent years, UT is still well behind other universities with the amount of funds raised. Penn State, just this year, was able to raise over $10.6 million, Cox said.

“Penn State has set the standard for this fundraiser,” she said. “Their event is simply called THON, and they have to turn student participants down. We want to get there too. We want students to beg to get in.”

For next year, Texas THON is working to broaden their event even more, Holmes said. Various ways to catch local attention are being discussed.

“I would like to find a celebrity of something next year,” she said. “There is so much we could do with this.”

Printed on Monday, February 27, 2012 as: Students dance for children's hospital