Duqathon gets students dancing for the kids

Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia editor | During Duqathon, students were able to participate in many different activities. Here students are seen petting Sandy, a therapet at the event.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor

On Saturday, dozens of students danced for a good cause at Duquesne’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon, “Duqathon.” Students raised more than $40,000 all afternoon while dancing and participating in activities.

According to the Miracle Network Dance Marathon website, each year, the organization raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals that support the health of 10 million kids across the U.S. and Canada. Through dance marathons, they have raised $350 million for local children’s hospitals since 1991.

This is Duquesne’s fourth annual dance marathon, which included a jungle theme and a “wild for the kids” slogan.

Some students raised money for the cause; others had a deeper, more personal connection to the Children’s Hospital.

Junior nursing major and president of this year’s Duqathon, Abby Barner, danced for her nephew Liam.

“When he was three, two days after his birthday, he was diagnosed with leukemia,” Barner said. “He’s in remission now, and he absolutely loves everyone at Children’s, it’s like going to play for him, he doesn’t mind at all, which just shows how well they’re treated there.”

Barner said any donations help as the illness impacts not just the children but the entire family.

“It’s giving back to your community and doing something more than just things on campus, it extends into the Pittsburgh community as well,” Barner said.

Though she first got involved before her nephew’s diagnosis, the event means even more to her and her family now.

“Having the opportunity to bring more smiles and ease a family’s stress is something I strive for,” Barner said.

At the beginning of the event, miracle kids were introduced through a student tunnel, where applause and smiles greeted them. Each kid then introduced themselves and their favorite jungle animals to the crowd. Liam’s favorite was a leopard; another young vistor, Kendra, liked monkeys.

During the event, students could purchase Kendra Scott’s jewelry, and 20% of the proceeds went to the event. Other optional activities included petting service dogs Indy and Sandy, racing through a bounce house obstacle course and entering into a raffle. The bounce house obstacle course was a hit for parents, college-aged students and kids alike.

A makeshift jail was new to this year’s marathon. Students could donate to the event to put their friends in jail, and those in jail had to raise double the amount to get out. Visiting DUPO officers ended up in jail for $5, needing to raise $10 to exit.

Another student was jailed for $90 and needed to raise $180 to get out. His other friend spent $10 more to make the exit out of jail at $200.

Although this event seemed smaller than last year, the organization raised $41,229.87, of which Barner, president and top donor this year, raised $1,177.98.

Another top donor this year and the top donor last year, Madeline Bubb, said their executive team grew close this year, making the event more successful.

Her key to raising money was contacting friends, family members, and local businesses in her hometown. She said this was easier than contacting bigger corporations as she has a more personal connection to her hometown and her family.

“No matter how much money we raise, we are always happy to give anything we can,” Bubb said.

Some fundraisers, like freshman education major Brooke Standish, said she participated because she “loves working with kids.”

Freshman sociology and criminal justice major Marlena Sartini said she enjoyed seeing people come and volunteer at the event and that everyone was very sweet to the kids who attended.

Other fundraisers, like junior and third-year Duqathon participant Alexa Lovelace, said she wanted to participate in the event after seeing bigger dance marathons like Penn State’s Thon. She said planning the day is a yearlong event.

“I know a lot of people think it’s just one day, but it is like a long process,” Lovelace said. “We have to get our sponsors together, food, work with the fieldhouse staff to make sure everything’s set up, and we work a lot directly with the hospital.”

Lovelace, like her fellow volunteers, also enjoys working toward the cause.

“I think it’s really important not only because it’s a great cause but also because it’s right in our backyard,” Lovelace said. “It’s supporting something in your city and the people who need the help in your city.”