Duqathon dances their way to success

Courtesy of Celia Fortebraccio | Duqathon raised nearly $70,000 for hospitalized kids in need.

Brentaro Yamane | Layout Editor/Multimedia Editor

April 13, 2023

Duqathon hosted its annual dance marathon for the third consecutive year, putting the groove on inside the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

The event was led by students to raise funds and awareness for sick and injured kids treated UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Throughout the dance marathon on April 1, students had fun with the patients by performing numerous activities such as dancing, playing dodgeball, painting, making bracelets, shooting basketball and going on inflatable slides.

The theme of this year’s Duqathon was “Olympics,” and the team running the event took a lot of inspiration from precious years’ critiques, said Celia Fortebraccio, a senior in supply chain management and the operations director for Duqathon.

A lot of planning goes into the annual event, according to special events co-chair Shaelyn Walker, a sophomore biology major, and her other board members.

“While our dance marathon at the end of the spring semester is our biggest and most important event all year, this is just a culmination of the dedication we have to put in during the entire year to promote and support Duqathon,” Walker said. “Our biggest goal is to create a cause connection between our campus and the UPMC Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.”

Fortebraccio is a returning executive board member, and she has been an active member for three years. She was happy to know that the students taking over Duqathon had the same mindset as her when it came to helping kids in need.

“I joined because I’ve always had an affinity for health care. I’ve really enjoyed interacting with people in a hospital setting,” Fortebraccio said. “My grandpa was in the hospital, in and out, like all throughout my life. So that was one of the reasons that I enjoyed joining this organization. And then one of the kids that I babysat for, he spent a good majority of his youth going in and out of Children’s for different things. So, seeing him develop and advance has been a good opportunity and why I’m doing this.”

Overall, the past three years, Fortebraccio has seen major development in the organization and with that, she feels optimistic about the future of the program.

From the first year back from Covid, when there could only be 20 people outside for an hour, the restrictions have loosened and the crowd of participants has risen to more than 300 people.

“There’s definitely been major growth,” Fortebraccio said. “I would love to see more people attend in the years to come and, you know, even grow more in what we can give to the children’s hospital.”

One of the participants was freshman Christian Daikeler who went with members of his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon.

“My favorite part of the event was shooting hoops with a young boy I met there,” Daikeler said. “The entire time we were just shooting far away shots and doing all these dribble moves and just having a good time. Seeing the smile on Miles’ face during this time felt like I was making someone truly happy.”

Duqathon president Molly Keller, a fourth-year in the Speech Pathology program, was pleased with the interactions she saw between Duquesne students and the kids in attendance.

“As the president of this organization, my biggest goal was to create an environment where people really feel the passion and love for this cause and want to be a part of this culture of wanting to change the kids’ health,” Keller said. “It really makes my heart happy to see the kids from the hospital being able to have fun and just be kids and not worry about their medical issues.”

This year, Duqathon raised $70,959,16, which was almost $5,000 more than the organization raised last year.

“We try our best to spread the word about it and get students involved in promoting health, while doing so through events and incentives that college students would love,” Walker said.