Live and from its virtual Zoom webinar, Kean Dance Marathon (KDM) launched its annual fundraiser for the Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, NJ on Friday, April 16, from 4 to 5 p.m. Hosted by the Greek Senate, the event was led by Graduate Intern for Greek Affairs Gabriella Lapointe with co-host, Delta Phi Epsilon senior, Katherine Lewandowski majoring in early childhood education and Assistant Director for Greek Life, Alex Louis. The marathon is regularly a 12-hour event that takes place at Harwood Arena on campus with dancing and singing but adjustments had to be altered due to the ongoing world crisis.
Various Greek organizations and other student teams came together raising a grand total of $27,598.00 to benefit the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals affiliated with Children's Specialized Hospital. Opening remarks were strengthened by the words of KDM advisor & Children's Specialized Hospital representative, Kayla Pagnani who shared her excitement on how thrilled she has been to be a part of KDM for several years now while looking forward to their future events.
Children's Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age that face health challenges from chronic illnesses, physical disabilities as well as developmental, behavioral and mental health concerns. With over 14 locations in NJ, pediatric specialists collaborate with families to provide innovative and therapeutic medical treatment for children to thrive to their fullest potential as per the Children's Specialized Hospital website.
“62 children are admitted to the miracle network hospital every minute.” She encouraged everyone to support in whatever way that they can because “every kid deserves a chance to be a kid,” said Lapointe.
Lapointe introduced videos from actual children and their families who shared their personal experiences while under the care at Children's Specialized Hospital. The story of bravery and determination of a young girl who played guitar and danced on stage then got hit by a car, undergoing seven surgeries yet was able to walk again with the aid of Children's Specialized Hospital.
Another story of the warrior princess with tumors that affected her spinal cord causing paralysis who was able to ditch her walker and dance at KDM with her supporters. These are just some of the cases of resilience that express their gratitude to the mission of the Children's Specialized Hospital.
Dr. Michele Fantasia, pediatric physiatrist at Children's Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick says “Each child has a story of hope, love and miracles.”
KDM was started in 2014 at Kean University and continues to be a powerhouse with its fundraising efforts. While all of the participating groups and members should be applauded for their fundraising efforts, special recognition was given to the top five individual supporters as well as top five organizations. The top five individual supporters included:
Supporters of the late Raymonde Louis who raised $1,565
Katie Lewandowski of Delta Phi Epsilon raising $850
Julia Giovanelli of Delta Phi Epsilon who raised $723
Rebecca Blaier of Sigma Beta Chi raising $700
Carly Lewandowski of Delta Phi Epsilon who also raised $671
The top five team group fundraisers included:
Delta Phi Epsilon raising a total of $7,206 (the most funds ever raised by any organization since the start of the KDM marathon)
Aesthetic Temple of Kenilworth, NJ raising $2,720
Theta Phi Alpha who raised $1,437
Lambda Theta Alpha-Latin Sorority Inc. raising $1,186
Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) who raised $1,175
Special recognition was also given to the Leadership Institute Silver Level group members who raised over $2,400. Donations continued to roll in during the presentation so it’s not too late to support a noteworthy cause.
Assistant Director of Greek Affairs, Alex Louis, wished to express his gratitude to the many groups and individuals who participated in this year’s fundraiser and an extra special heartfelt appreciation to those members leading the effort as well as anyone who supported the team of his late mother, Raymonde Louis.
The event also included a game of Kahoot where audience members were tested in a series of trivia questions to test their knowledge of KDM and the history of Children's Specialized Hospital. There were also live challenges to make immediate donations and to text additional people to help support the cause.
Lapointe concluded her discussion by saying “We know it hasn’t been easy. Everyone is going through their own thing. These are unprecedented times.”