Rutgers University Dance Marathon: Have you heard the Awesome News?

by Taminah Jackson

Last Friday, March 31st and Saturday, April 1st, Rutgers University had their annual Dance Marathon in the Rutgers Athletic Center (the RAC), located on the Livingston campus. If you aren’t a student at Rutgers or if you haven’t heard yet, Rutgers University Dance Marathon (RUDM) raised its largest amount yet at $1,038,986.13!

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RUDM is a huge student-run, philanthropic, annual event in which students, alumni, children with various illnesses, and many others are joined by their families to be on their feet for one of two 12 hour periods. All of the money raised goes to Embrace Kids Foundation. RUDM event is broken into two sessions. One session is on Friday where dancers, volunteers, and other participants are on their feet from 6PM-6AM. In the next hour at about 7AM, the Saturday dancers, volunteers, and other participants begin to arrive and are on their feet from 9AM-9PM. This year, I was appreciative to have participated in RUDM for the first time and I’ll tell you all about it. I only participated in the Saturday session, so I’ll tell you my experiences from attending that day.

The event began first with an opening video where we got a synopsis of what RUDM is about and we got to hear on the screen from families and children with illnesses about how the money raised will benefit their lives. Next, we saw some Rutgers students performing to K-pop genre songs and to songs from India. Seeing these performances made me realize how talented and creative Rutgers students are in putting together some amazing and works of art. Then, the DJ played the tunes that we all seemed to know, danced to, and sung to. While lots of people were dancing, people were also getting inches of their hair cut to donate to cancer patients, playing games such as basketball, singing karaoke, and taking pictures, all while standing up.

After some initial fun, we had our Color Wars competition.  Depending on the color shirts we were wearing and the color teams we were informed in email we were apart of, we competed aggressively, while having tons of fun. A select few students from each team competed in the Color Wars competitions where activities ranged from jumping rope, sitting on balloons to make them pop, tug of war, scavenger hunts, social media hashtag wars, etc. My team, the maroon team, unfortunately came in last place in the Color Wars competition when points were totaled.

Free snacks were provided throughout the event to satisfy our hunger and so was music to enjoy. Lunch and dinner time came before we knew it, too. Expecting to see stools near the table, I was actually happy to have stood up to eat, knowing that we all committed to being on our feet for 12 hours. I would have believed it to be breaking our commitment if we had seats to sit down on.

The children who had illnesses and their families who we were all there to see arrived at around 5PM, where we got to dance, play games, and interact with them. We all witnessed the children and their families walking from the stage to a red carpet. We got to see in person the families we have helped to pay their gas, put their children in schools, and pay their bills with the money we raised for them. One mother even announced on stage that her son has an autoimmune illness and her daughter will soon be attending Rutgers University as a student, thanks to us. Hearing her say this showed us how impactful RUDM has been for her and her family over the years she had been attending.

At the end of the marathon at about 9PM, the students who helped run and organize RUDM announced the amounts raised for this year’s RUDM17. Seeing that the second to last number revealed was a 0, everyone screamed. Everyone then and there knew that we raised somewhere in the millions this year. It was such a celebratory moment for everyone and it deserved all of the confetti in the world to fall in that center.

Next year, will you join #RUDM18?

Here is the countdown to next year’s: http://marathon.rutgers.edu/

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