Though the Kean Dance Marathon Hype Day occurred in October, the real Kickoff to Kean Dance Marathon season happened on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. During college hour from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m., games, performances and informational sessions about the coveted 12-hour dance marathon dedicated to raising money for the Children's Specialized Hospital were offered to the students and faculty of Kean University.
Hosted by the Greek Senate in the Miron Student Center (MSC) Atrium, an assortment of students arrived to tables encased in different colored drapes meant to represent the many Greek organizations available. Displayed were different games and creative activities for the people that were walking through.
From Penny Wars to a Bake Sale, different Greek Organizations, such as the Fraternity of Iota Phi Theta (IPT) and Sororities like Omega Sigma Psi (OSP), all played an integral part in serving the students with fun and enticing projects that afternoon.
The event opened up as the president of Greek Senate, Abanoub Nakhla, incited the crowd as a means to get everyone ready for the event ahead. The senior, who majors in biology and is an active member of the fraternity Nu Delta Pi (NDP), was also responsible in facilitating the many unique presentations and performances throughout the day. The first of these performances, was an acapella-performed rendition of Beyonce's "Halo" by Danielle Thomas and Ymani Hawkins; two members of the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS).
Shortly after, Kayla Pagnani, the Program Coordinator of the Children's Specialized Hospital, gave a speech. Pagnani, who serves as a current hospital advisor at her place of occupation, thanked the multitude of KDM supporters who came out to the event to raise money for a good cause.
"The Children's Specialized Hospital is the nation's leading hospital in pediatric rehabilitation featuring over 30,000 children, right here in New Jersey. So, everything you guys fundraise, everything you guys are doing today goes onward, stays local and helps kids, which is amazing," Pagnani explained to the audience. "Kean Dance Marathon is actually New Jersey's highest fundraising dance marathon. Give yourself a round of applause!"
After Pagnani concluded her speech, she told the story of a three-year-old girl named Izzy, who, at the young age of one year old, had to undergo 42 rounds of chemotherapy to rid herself of a tumor that grew on her spine. Pagnani commended the audience's willingness to not only show up to the afternoon's event, but donate to the good cause to help out children like Izzy get the treatment they need so that they can live their best lives.
"After the rounds of Chemotherapy, she had to re-learn how to crawl, sit up and now she is walking and running, but before she came into Children's Specialized Hospital, the tumor really stunted everything she was supposed to be doing at that age," Pagnani said. "You can imagine a little one year old, how tiny you were at that age, imagine going through 42 rounds of chemotherapy. That is insane. Little Izzy is in preschool now, and everyday, she is learning something else. Everyday is a battle, but she is doing amazing, and she has groups like you guys to thank."
The audience then sent a special message to the toddler, all cheering, "We love you Izzy!" in unison into Kayla's phone, which would be sent to Izzy and her family.
Soon after, the Kean Dance Team (KDT) would give their own presentation. All dressed in white to go along with their amazing recital, the group danced to their favorite songs, and the Kean audience clapped and cheered to it. After the dance team finished its performance, the Greek organizations began their various strolls and dances for the audience to enjoy. First up, came the Divine Nine Sorority of Sigma Gamma Rho (SGR), as three of the organization's sisters strutted their stuff to the members of the Kean community.
Following them was the Latin sorority of Lambda Theta Alpha, as they performed their traditional strolls and dances to the beat of some of today's most popular hip-hop and contemporary songs. Subsequently, the fraternity of Iota Phi Theta would show their talents on the KDM Kickoff stage, performing their dances and strolls for the crowd to yet again enjoy. Groups such as Lambda Sigma Upsilon and Omega Phi Chi would do the same after the brothers from Iota Phi Theta finished.
Tatiana Amandor, a senior biology major with a minor in psychology and member of sorority Omega Phi Chi, spoke on how the event was important to her.
"What this event means to me, is that everybody, whether Greek or non-Greek, is able to come together, and help out the children who are in need," Amandor said. "And also, we are helping out children who definitely need it for a good cause!"
Another coordinator for the event, Vanessa Lupo, a Senior majoring in biology as well as a sister of the Theta Phi Alpha (TPA) sorority, attributed the event's success to its turnout and the campus's general concern for helping children get the medical attention they need.
"This event is significant for me, because we are raising money for KDM to kickoff our actual Kean Dance Marathon in April and bring Greek Life and the Kean community together, as well as play some games," Lupo said.
The actual Kean Dance Marathon begins April 13, 2018 at Harwood Arena, but if anything is apparent, the excitement for the annual festival is at an all-time high. For more information on the event, visit the official KDM website.