“The event itself went really well,” said junior public relations major and president of BUDM Ryan Austin. “We didn’t get as many dancers as we wanted, but those who were there had fun.”
Participants danced to raise money and awareness for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois for 13 hours.
The event raised $10,448 for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, halfway to the organization’s goal of $20,000. BUDM raised over $300,000 for the cause over the past 10 years.
“I love the cause,” said senior accounting major and BUDM executive board member Brea Whaley. “Everybody should go and visit the hospital if they haven’t.”
First time participant sophomore nursing major Brandis Holloway was a morale leader for the marathon. Holloway’s job consisted of encouraging the other participants to keep dancing.
“I love to dance and perform,” she said. “I’m really excited to meet the families of the children.”
Fifteen-year-old Erin Fitzgerald has participated in Dance Marathon every year since 2001. She was a former patient at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Fitzgerald was born with a dysplastic kidney, meaning her kidney was not fully developed. In 1997, she received a kidney transplant from her father. Erin was the youngest kidney transplant recipient at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
“I like meeting the dancers,” she said. “Every year I look forward to meeting more people and participating.”
Erin’s story and others who are closely linked to Children’s Hospital of Illinois serve as motivation for Bradley student participants.
“I can’t thank [families] enough,” Austin said. “To come and participate and hear their stories, this is really what we’re here for.”
The best part about participating as students is interacting with the families of the children, senior retail merchandising major and BUDM executive board member Courtney Clinton said.
“It makes us feel good,” she said. “They inspire us.”
At the event, students also extended their support for the cause by creating cards for patients in the hospital. The cards were decorated with bright colorful letters and pictures, and were filled with words of encouragement and love.
“One of the greatest things about BUDM is how in touch we are with the people we are helping,” BUDM’s Director of Marketing Rebecca Nunes said. “We physically see the difference we are making because it’s so close to home. We had kids at the marathon to share their stories and hang out with us.”
Austin said he felt this year’s event was successful, but would like to see the event grow to include more sponsors and participants.
“It’s a fun event and I would like more students to get involved,” he said. “And if we had more sponsors we could be more financially successful.”