Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass ForTheKids aims to raise $300k for Baystate Children’s Hospital, prepares for Saturday’s Dance Marathon

Their largest fundraiser will take place Saturday
Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

The Mullins Center will hold the University of Massachusetts ForTheKids’ largest fundraiser of the year on Saturday: a 12-hour dance marathon.

From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., students and community members will be participating in UMass FTK’s fundraiser to help Baystate Children’s Hospital, who receives no funding from the state of Massachusetts. As of Tuesday, April 9, nearly 2,000 people have registered for the event.

This is the first year that the event will be held in the Mullins Center. Despite some concerns from alumni and students, UMass FTK chose to use the larger venue to start building a culture around the group and their 13th annual event.

“We’re really excited because we see there is a lot of opportunity with the Mullins Center, especially because of all the technology and space that we have,” said Zachary Sturm, president of UMass FTK and sports management and accounting senior. “It truly is the future that Dance Marathon holds.”

Last year, the group’s goal was to raise $200,000 and it raised $212,000 with about 1,700 people registered. Members of UMass FTK declined to reveal how much they’ve raised so far this year in order to save the amount for a reveal at the Dance Marathon, but said they have surpassed last year’s goal.

Last week, the group raised $25,000 during their annual “Day of Help.”

This year, more children from the Children’s Miracle Network will be in attendance than in past years. Last year, only three children were able to participate whereas at least 22 children will be attending Saturday, according to Thomas Martin, vice president of external relations for UMass FTK and biochemistry senior.

“The entire place is decorated. Every team has their own “Miracle child,” so the Miracle child has somewhere where they are kind of a star. They have posters with their name, they have games catered specifically to them,” said Emily Agro, vice president of relations for UMass FTK and microbiology senior.

“This year, our theme is Disney for our Dance Marathon, so whatever their favorite Disney character is, [their section] can be catered to them,” she said.

Around 1,200 members of Greek life have registered for the event, 35 members of the club hockey team, 30 from each of the other club teams, 40 to 50 from the Student Nurses Association and 50 from Women in Business. CHAARG also has around 40 members registered and has raised around $4,000 this year for UMass FTK.

“Getting these smaller organizations together, it really builds up in the end,” Sturm said.

This is also the first year the group has worked with South Hadley High School, registering about 60 of their students.

“Looking back on if I was given the opportunity to get involved with Dance Marathon [in high school], and I knew how I’d feel now, I’d have said ‘yes’ because it just establishes in your mind what really matters and what really is meaningful,” Sturm said.

Each person registers individually but can be given a registration code that puts them on a team. Then, each participant is assigned a donor drive, similar to a fundraising page or a GoFundMe, where they can customize it and make it unique to themselves. People can send out emails from the service or use links to post on social media.

The event on Saturday will begin with an opening ceremony where Sturm will give a speech and the Miracle kids will come up on stage, one by one, to be recognized and officially welcomed.

The day will also consist of performances from dance teams and acapella groups on campus, games, face painting, a dance-off, a tug of war competition and guest speakers. Multiple DJs will play their sets, including some throwbacks and Disney songs.

“It’s more than just dancing. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions of the event itself,” Sturm said. “It’s not just about dancing, it’s a celebration.”

The night will end with a closing ceremony with a speech from someone who works for the Miracle Children’s Network Hospitals, followed by the cutting of the medical bracelets which attendees are given when they arrive at Dance Marathon.

“The kids who go to the hospital don’t get to take their bracelets off and don’t get to leave. So, it’s supposed to be a moment where we’re all recognizing ‘you get to go home after this, you get to continue doing whatever you feel like,’” Agro explained.

“There are people out there who are definitely having a worse day than you, and you get to think about that a little bit,” Sturm said. “Every moment I think about [how] there are Miracle children in the hospital right now going through treatment, being pricked with needles and it’s sad, but in the end that’s what drives us to keep going with the event.”

Within the last few years, UMass FTK has raised nearly half a million dollars for the state-of-the-art Pediatric Procedural Unit.

“This beautiful space promises to bring a much more comfortable experience to the children and families of Baystate Children’s during their day procedures. These procedures range from endoscopies to chemotherapy treatment,” UMass FTK’s website reads.

Money raised by ForTheKids has also gone toward medical equipment, research projects and outreach programs.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.

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  • A

    amyApr 12, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Why only white people???? Why not a fundraiser for asians or people who need it the most?? Minorities??? This fundraiser seems racist..

  • O

    Olinda SturmApr 11, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    We are so proud of our son, Zachary Sturm. We have witnessed the fundraising efforts throughout the year culminating in the Dance Marathon on Saturday.
    We will be in attendance, supporting this valiant effort. All the students who worked so hard all year long should be impressed by the results of working together to make a difference.