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ASU students educate, raise funds through dance marathon

Students create a conga line  while dancing at the Dance Marathon on Feb. 22. (Photo by Alexis Macklin)
Students create a conga line while dancing at the Dance Marathon on Feb. 22. (Photo by Alexis Macklin)

Students create a conga line  while dancing at the Dance Marathon on Feb. 22. (Photo by Alexis Macklin) Students create a conga line while dancing at the Dance Marathon on Feb. 22. (Photo by Alexis Macklin)

Students at ASU partied for a purpose Saturday at the second annual dance marathon, held at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Tempe campus, and raised more than $44,000 for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital representative Susan O’Donnell, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 12-hour event, said every penny raised will directly help the children.

“We have a lot of families that just can’t afford to pay for their medical bills, and we have to fundraise for that, and you guys are helping us do that,” she said. “Every single dollar that you guys raise is going directly to our patients.”

The event started with motivational words of gratitude from some of the hospital’s patients. A young boy with a pacemaker thanked the students for raising funds and said he was excited about “dancing on batteries.”

Christi Smith, business communication freshman and member of Alpha Phi, said students realized the importance of their participation and were excited to show their support.

“We think it would be good to show (the kids) that Alpha Phi cares about kids who have cancer, and we’re standing strong for those kids, because they can’t stand strong for themselves,” she said. “We thought it would be good to participate in this and show our love for them.”

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Jordan Davis, a political science junior, said it was important for people to actually attend the event and participate in order to raise awareness for the children. Students could have just donated money, but participating in the dance marathon helped them realize the gravity of the cause.

“This is a great event,” he said. “I encouraged everyone to come out. I think it’s a really good cause.”

Sophomore communications major Sarah D'Agestino leads choreography with other spirit leaders at the dance marathon on Feb. 22 (Photo by Alexis Macklin) Communications sophomore Sarah D'Agestino leads choreography with other spirit captains at the dance marathon on Feb. 22. (Photo by Alexis Macklin)

Keeping true to the tradition of dance marathons, participants could not sit down for the entire 12 hours.

Zahra Giga, business communications junior and the director of public relations for the ASU Dance Marathon, said upholding traditions like this are a great way to not only raise money, but to meet other students and have fun.

“I absolutely love it," Giga said. "I come from the Midwest, where dance marathons are a huge deal, and it’s just really cool to be a part of something. This event, it’s really a party for a purpose. It’s a great way for students to meet each other and hang out.”

Instead of just hosting a standard “sock hop,” organizers of the event planned frequent theme changes for the evening. Kicking it off with standard American dance music, students then moved to blow-up obstacle courses, dodgeball tournaments and free food. At midnight, the event even turned into a surprise rave. The meticulous planning of fun and varied events drew a sizable crowd of students.

“It was just really great to see the amount of students that came to support this event,” Giga said. “Close to about 800 people decided to come out today and support this cause.”

Giga said the planning process began in August. Nine students and three faculty members began working out logistics and drew experience from last year’s event to improve on the event this year.

“We kind of looked at what didn’t go so well last year and then worked on how we can improve it for this year,” Giga said.

Giga and her crew are already taking notes for next year. Once this year’s event was over, the organizers had a debrief meeting and discussed what went well and what can be done better next year. Giga’s ultimate goal for the ASU Dance Marathon is to be on par or beat Penn State’s Annual Dance Marathon, which has a history of earning close to a million dollars at the events.

“I think in 10 to 15 years, we’re going to outdo Thon,” Giga said with confidence.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @Melissa152163

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