A voice from the stage yelled, “Why are we here?” With equal excitement, the crowd of 200+ Marymount University students exclaimed, “For the kids!” The chant was heard repeatedly throughout the night of March 29 and into the wee hours of March 30, during the university’s first annual Dance MaryTHON, held to benefit the Children’s National Health System.

The event raised more than $22,500 for the Washington, DC, hospital, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network. Nationally, dance marathons have raised $62 million for
hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network.

Marymount’s event kicked off at 7 p.m. with a ceremony featuring several children who are receiving treatment through the Children’s National Health System. To keep participants awake and engaged, a variety of activities took place every hour. The one constant was the Morale Dance, which was created by the Dance MaryTHON committee to raise spirits. Students also enjoyed video games, fashion shows, kickball, board games, and more – all while staying on their feet.

The highlight for many came just after sunrise on Sunday, as the 7 a.m. end of the MaryThon approached, with the arrival of Tess and Alexander, siblings who have cerebral palsy. After mingling with students, Alexander took the stage and explained how these marathon fund raisers really help. He said that the funds not only purchase medical equipment, they also buy beloved “frog bean bag chairs!” He noted that the one they have at Children’s National Health System is missing an eye, so someone drew it on with a marker. This personal connection with children they were helping was the biggest energy booster for the Marymount students.

Dance marathons usually end at 3 a.m., not an hour for children to be up and about. So, it was a treat for Tess and Alexander to meet the college students who were dancing for them. Alexander had a final question for the crowd: “Can I come back next year?” Without hesitation, the group yelled “YES!” For Kiesha Branch, a fashion merchandising major, that was her favorite memory. Exhausted after being up on her feet all night, she said, “Twelve hours was totally worth it!”

Like most Marymount campus events, the Dance MaryTHON was planned by students, with staff support. Chesney Rhoades ʼ15, a history major with secondary teaching licensure from Quinton, VA, led the effort after the hospital requested that Marymount host an event. Rhoades said, “I was instantly pulled into this idea of a ‘party with a purpose’ as a way to bring the Marymount community together.”

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