Students dance for change at annual fundraiser

The second annual SFU Dance Marathon kicked off on Saturday, January 24, featuring 12 hours of nonstop energy, infectious songs, and, of course, a whole lot of dancing.

SFU is the first university in Canada to hold a Dance Marathon, with all proceeds raised going towards the BC Children’s Hospital and directed to their area of greatest need, whether that be purchasing new equipment or funding the construction of the new Children’s Hospital facility.

“They do so much more than just provide medical care for the kids,” said Yasamin Houshmand, the event’s tech officer. “They look after their emotional and mental [well-being] as well.”

The first Dance Marathon was held in 1991 by students at Indiana University in memory of Ryan White, their classmate who had passed away from AIDS after receiving contaminated blood treatment when he was younger.

Now, over 200,000 students across North America participate in this event every year to raise funds for their local children’s hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network.

For Caitlyn Schwab, event officer of the Dance Marathon’s executive team, this issue hits close to home. “My cousin is actually being treated at BC Children’s Hospital,” she said. “He has had three open heart surgeries and he is eight years old. We wouldn’t have him if it wasn’t for BC Children’s Hospital and all the amazing work that they do.”

“Events like this help us live out our university motto of engaging the world.”

Sophie Tsai, Morale team member

Prior to the event, Dance Marathon participants asked people to sponsor them in order to reach their individual fundraising goals. A pub night and bottle drives were also held in order to help fundraise.

The event kicked off at 11 a.m. with an opening dance number in Convocation Mall, and moved over to the East Gym in the afternoon. In addition to dancing, there were activities for kids, including face painting and a handprint banner. There were also special speeches from some of BC Children’s Hospital’s Miracle kids, who shared their inspirational stories and thanked participants for their support.

“I think that events like this help us live out our university motto of ‘engaging the world,’” said Sophie Tsai, a member of the morale team. “When students are involved in an event like this, they are more likely to go outside and do other charity work as well.”

Houshmand echoed this sentiment, noting, “The event brings people together from a whole range of disciplines. I am an engineering student and meeting people from lots of other faculties, people I wouldn’t meet outside of my classes.”

She continued, “Being able to interact with each other brings out our biggest sense of community.”

The Dance Marathon came to an end at 11 p.m., with a grand total of $17,161.93 raised for the kids. The 12 hour-long event may have been exhausting, but for the organizers, it was definitely worth it. “Kids don’t get a break from being sick,” said Schwab, “We stand in solidarity with that.”