Kean Dance Marathon 2017 has concluded with a grand total of $47,485.98 raised for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, including the local Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, N.J.
In the spring of 2016, KDM raised a total of $38,014.24 to be donated to the hospital.
Yes, everyone knows the money is donated, but where is the money specifically going to and what impact has the Kean Community had on the lives of the patients in the hospital?
Kayla Pagnani, who is the program coordinator for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, has been Kean's contact when planning and organizing the event for both 2016 and 2017.
"The money that KDM raises benefits the over 30,000 children, hospitals treat every year," Pagnani said.
Patients who have been directly impacted by the support and love that KDM provides include eight year old Taryn, who has Cerebral Palsy, seven year old Jude, who has Inflamed Spinal Cord; 14 year old Ariana, who has a Traumatic Brain Injury; and 13 year old Bryce, who has a Traumatic Brain Injury.
All four of these incredible children who have beaten the odds shared their stories at KDM 2017.
The funds that Kean raises also contribute to the Children's Specialized Hospital's Benefit Fund.
Pagnani said that the fund "ensures no child is ever refused treatment because they cannot afford it."
KDM not only leaves a lasting effect on the patients who utilize the services of the hospital, but it also has an impact on those involved in the event as well.
Senior communication studies major Manar Eldeeb shared that the idea of fundraising money for the Children's Specialized Hospital was non-existent in her life until joining Greek life as a part of the Delta Phi Epsilon International Sorority.
In the spring of 2016, Eldeeb raised a little over the minimum participant fundraising requirement, which was $50.
"I thought that once I hit that number, I was fine and it was off my shoulders," Eldeeb said. "Only last semester was when I realized how severely important it was."
It was a story from a guest speaker whose son was randomly shot in their backyard and required immediate attention by the Children's Specialized Hospital that changed Eldeeb's perspective.
"His story stuck with me, along with the children I saw that day and actually acknowledged," Eldeeb said. "After last year's KDM, I took a promise with myself that I would go above and beyond in trying to raise much more than I did."
She knew she could do so much more than simply settling for the minimum fundraising requirement.
Eldeeb set up a jar with a description of what KDM was and displayed the jar at the bakery she works at. During the fall semester going into the spring semester, she was able to raise more than 30 times the amount of money she raised the spring before. Her fundraising total reached $1,500.
I can't even put in words how I feel doing this -- how good it feels to help these children out, and how much each and every single dollar matters," Eldeeb said. "The hospital does crazy things -- truly making dreams come true and to partake in helping them out is such a rewarding feeling."
Senior business management major, Ashley Solla is also a sister of the Delta Phi Epsilon International Sorority and a member of the Platinum Leadership Institute.
"Ever since KDM began, I have personally seen a change in the campus involvement with this issue and the amount of time and effort that is put into this event," Solla said. "The entire school year is spent planning and perfecting this event and I think that it reflects so positively on the university's efforts toward this event."
She described the work that the Children's Specialized Hospital does as remarkable and so rewarding, that fundraising for the cause in any way she can is even a rewarding feeling for herself.
Being involved in KDM has made Solla more aware of what the hospital specializes in, as she was able to hear first hand the stories of those who have been helped by its services.
"If I had never gotten involved in KDM, I would be unaware of the huge impact this hospital has on children all across the nation," Solla said.
Overall, KDM contributes to changing the lives of those patients and families being served by the Children's Specialized Hospital. But what is not often realized is that those involved in the planning, organizing and fundraising aspects of the event are also changed throughout the process.
"Being able to see these children and families overjoyed by what we are doing, truly shows the impact that KDM has," Solla said.