On Friday, April 7, 2017, Kean Dance Marathon (KDM) went underway. Students participated in a 12-hour-straight dance to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network and the Children's Specialized Hospital.
The event officially started at 12 p.m. and officially ended at 12 a.m. Many Greek groups, student groups and student organizations came together to raise money as a university. This year's goal was to reach $40,000.
As soon as students entered the Harwood Arena gymnasium, they were welcomed with energetic music and surrounded by sororities, fraternities, student organizations and sports teams. There were games and activities to participate in, such as giant Jenga, frisbee, water-pong, hula-hooping and bean bag toss. Miscellaneous balloons and hula hoops were available for students to use.
Not only did students hang out and participate with each other, but they played with the children too. From time to time, participants were reminded to be standing, dancing or active at all times. In addition, there was a reminder that people were still allowed and open to donate to KDM online.
There were tables displayed around the gym for 50-50 raffles, t-shirt sales, henna tattoos, food, Jumpstart coloring books and raffle prizes. Raffle prizes included NFL gift cards, Visa gift cards, shower speakers, Panera Bread salad for a year certificates, a Vineyard Vines tie, a comforter, cookie platters and assorted gift baskets.
Two different types of t-shirts were being sold for $10 each. Any table that took money, donated all of the proceeds to the KDM grand fundraising total.
At 12:30 p.m., seniors Ashley Buchanan and Megan Barbosa took the stage to welcome all of the attendees. Throughout hour one more student groups and participants continued to fill the space of the arena.
The playing of The Macarena and The Cotton Eyed Joe kicked off the dancing and more students began to take the floor and show off their moves. Everyone would come to the center to dance when popular line dances played through the speakers. Songs like The Cupid Shuffle, Soulja Boy (Crank That), Cha-Cha Slide and Wobble brought nostalgia to the past years.
Desiree Kearney, junior English education major and American Sign Language minor, is part of the sorority Nu Theta Chi. Her Greek organization made a basket full of Starbucks items and donated it as a prize for the raffles.
"This is my third KDM and I like how the dancing has unified all the fraternities, sororities, groups and athletes," Kearney said. "I look forward to beating our goal."
The gym was covered in 90's themed decorations including table center pieces of Rugrats, Scooby Doo, Ninja Turtles and other cartoon characters from the decade.
Every other hour, Barbosa would ask for a volunteer to answer a 90's trivia question. The first one was to complete the lyric, "In west Philadelphia, born and raised," but the audience could not hold back and yelled out the rest. Every volunteer who successfully answered a trivia question without any help received a prize.
"Honestly, I look forward to helping the children and just having fun like I did all semester," said junior history major Mike Petrie, who is attending his second KDM and who also volunteered for a trivia question.
He went up to represent his fraternity, Gamma Psi Epsilon. His question was to answer which two N'SYNC members were Mouseketeers on the NEW Mickey Mouse Club.
Kean's Jumpstart program had a table where students could color bingo games for the 180 students the program works with.
Everyone moved around, filling the space and many students darted right for the water pong tables.
When hour two rolled around, the dancing lobsters took the floor.
The Vegas Wedding competition began shortly after, where six groups had to use toilet paper to dress up a "bride" and newspaper to dress up a "groom." The audience chose the winner to be the sorority Omega Sigma Psi with its Earth Day theme.
There were many games for students to participate in afterwards as well. At one point, there was a musical chairs competition and a Jenga tournament.
Sophia Fernanda Morin, senior psychology major, came to KDM in support of her sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon.
"I'm really enjoying the dancing and the socializing. Having my friends here make it all the better too," said Morin.
Henna tattoos were being done for $3 donations to KDM by freshman Mary Linen, who is involved in the Leadership Institute, Student Government and the club Good Eats at KU.
"I dance to raise money for the kids," said freshman Ashley Bongiorno, who is interested in joining a sorority.
There were so many performances to entertain everyone throughout the night. Groups like Kean's men's basketball team did a freestyle hip hop performance for the students. The Kean Dance Team performed to a mix of Beyonce songs, two students sung solos, a student group in black dresses wowed the audience with their beautiful dance, Urban Dance Troupe did a performance for the crowd and so many other groups danced throughout the night.
After a few songs and performances, children from the Children's Specialized Hospital would come up with their parents and share their story. Each story touched the students' hearts and felt blessed to make KDM happen.
Some other trivia questions that happened throughout the rest of the night were: what is the name of the fox in Dora the Explorer and which cartoon features six babies?
"I came here because my boys from Beta Kappa Psi are here. I'm looking forward to the dancing," said Carlos Gonzalez, sophomore theatre major, who is attending his first ever KDM.
By the minute, more people came in. Students from every major, background, sorority and fraternity were there. Some students had the special opportunity to spend their birthday at KDM and have everybody sing to them.
Joy Ann Dimaculangan, senior psychology major, attended KDM to support her friends.
"I'm not part of a sorority, but I wish I was part of Delta Phi Epsilon," Dimaculangan said. "I came here to see friends and see the Kean campus come together for a good cause. I look forward to getting a lot of money for the kids."
As the event progressed and the day turned into the night, the raffles for prizes and two 50-50 raffles were drawn. The winner of the first received $47 and the winner of the second received $80.
Three Zumba dancers led some energetic and cultural dances for students to follow. The music and rhythm flowed in a lot of students and made them dance along with the instructors.
Around 9 p.m., Greek organizations and dance teams began entertaining the crowd with dance routines and chanting. The lights began turning down at 9:30 p.m. and the darker atmosphere combined with the DJ's selection of music provoked more dancing and involvement from participants.
Sophomore athletic training major Julia Fiore, who is on the women's volleyball team, participated in her first KDM this year.
"I liked how we had the families come up and tell their stories and were able to play games with them after," Fiore said. "It was good to be able to see the families we were helping as their stories were touching."
As the lights continued to dim, more people were inclined to show their moves on the dance floor.
Kayla Pagnani, who is a program coordinator for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, has been Kean's contact when planning the KDM event for the past two years. She attended the event earlier in the day.
"KDM is Children's Specialized Hospital's highest fundraising Dance Marathon," Pagnani said. "100% of the funds raised through KDM stay local and directly benefits kids in New Jersey."
The funds also go toward the hospital's "Benefit Program," which makes sure that no child is ever refused treatment because they are not able to afford it.
"We are this generation fighting for the next," Pagnani said. "No childhood is the same, but every child deserves hope, happiness and a chance to reach their fullest potential; Dance Marathon exemplifies all of these things."
As the night came to a close, the crowd became thinner but there was still a large group of dedicated dancers sticking it out until the end.
At 12 a.m. the total of $47,485.98 was presented by students at the university, revealing that the event far surpassed the goal of $40,000.
The amount raised is almost $10,000 more than last year's event. Assistant director of Center for Leadership and Service at Kean, Alex Louis is looking to make the event bigger and better for next year involving even more student groups!
"Aside from their extraordinary fundraising, KDM's unity truly stands out to me," Pagnani said. "Seeing all different Greek organizations, leadership organizations, clubs and every day students coming together and lifting each other up for the same cause is truly inspiring!"
She cannot wait to see the miracles that Kean Dance Marathon will help to create in 2018.