NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On April 11 and 12, Rutgers hosted its 16th annual Dance Marathon, the state's largest philanthropic event, which serves as a fundraiser for the city-based Embrace Kids Foundation.
Funded by student organizations, fraternities and sororities, Rutgers alumni, and other company sponsors, just over $692,000 has been raised this year, adding to the total of $4.2 million raised since the event’s inception.
All Rutgers students and alumni are invited to form teams to participate in the 30-hour long event, spending the entire night on their feet in tribute to the children who undergo the exhausting process of chemotherapy, or suffer from other blood disorders such as sickle cell disease.
Participants are encouraged to spend the entire 30 hours on their feet, with an array of activities to keep busy.
“We’re standing strong with them through it,” states the Dance Marathon ‘about’ section.
“This support goes far beyond the financial support we provide, it also includes emotional support. We dance to give hope. We dance because we’re thankful that we’re able to. We stand for those who can’t.”
For students to become involved, a Captain must form a team and register for the event online, in doing so committing themselves to raising a certain amount of funds through various efforts as well as to spending the 30 hour period on their feet.
Fundraising efforts often involve Rutgers students spending time 'canning' in New Brunswick and in their hometowns, as well as through team members promoting the charity among friends and colleagues in order to garner as much participation as possible.
Through the RU4Kids program, teams can apply to directly sponsor a child in the Embrace Kids Foundation. On the floor, one can often hear the motto ‘FTK’— For the Kids.
Charlotte Whitehead, a member of Omega Phi Alpha service sorority, talked about her experience as the Captain of a team sponsoring a girl named Barbara, who has sickle cell disease.
“I didn't think that it would take so much physical and mental strength to keep myself from sitting down," said Whitehead.
"Around the half way point, I got shin splints in both of my legs which made it even more difficult to just walk around, but I took some advil and kept going. Once the kids came and the girl we sponsored, Barbara, was there, it made standing more bearable."
At the end of a night full of DJ performances and activities, the children who are sponsored by the Embrace Kids foundation make appearances and speeches in front of the hundreds of financially and emotionally supportive participants.
The Dance Marathon has the highest participation rate of any student-run charity campaign in New Jersey, with over 800 participants this year.
Increasingly well-known, the embodies the deep commitment to community service and activism that is strong within the Rutgers New Brunswick community.