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Rising to the Occasion: Bates College Dance Marathon

Guest Blogger: Emily Bass

Making Plans….

Dance Marathon is a year-long fundraiser that hundreds of college students on the Bates campus participate in. Students register online, and fundraise by sharing their page link with friends and family or on social media. The Dance Marathon Committee hosts events throughout the year — whether it be donut sales, a fundraiser night at a local restaurant, or a suggested donation Zumba class — to raise awareness for the work we are doing to benefit The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

The 2020 Bates Dance Marathon was scheduled for Saturday, March 14th. At the event, we were supposed to have three Miracle Children join us, share their stories, give speeches, and dance it all out with us before the fundraising total for the year was announced at the end. We had planned food donors, tons of raffle prizes, four student performance groups, inflatables, and activities throughout the night to connect our Miracle Children with our students.

On Monday, March 9th, panic about the emergence of COVID-19 in the hometowns of many of our students arose. Suddenly, coronavirus was all students could talk about. Campus events had been limited to 100 people, with no outside visitors — which for us meant no Miracle Children, who bring the energy and meaning to our event. The following day, one of our peer institutions sent their students home. By Thursday, Bates was the only school in our conference that had not made that decision, but lunchtime conversations were entirely focused upon how a case had been identified within our county.

A change in plans….

Every one of us has had something impacted or cancelled as a result of the global pandemic we are experiencing. Sitting in my class after lunch on Thursday, knowing it was likely just a matter of hours before we, too, would be sent home, all I could think about was how little chance we had to continue our event on Saturday. I texted my committee at 3pm on that day and asked if they wanted to do an impromptu Dance Marathon, starting one hour later in front of our dining hall.

We all split up tasks, fast. One committee member got in touch with one of our a capella groups and some of our dancers, both of whom performed. Other committee members made posters and set up a photo backdrop. Others brought speakers and figured out how we would run a raffle, given the circumstances. Others designed a social media announcement that we got out immediately, and texted their friends to let them know the times that we would be announcing the fundraising total and the top fundraising team, so they would not miss those moments.

We have approximately 1,500 students on campus. In those few hours where we danced outside of the dining hall and shouted for support for BBCH, those students came together to help us raise over $800 in Venmo contributions. Even more special were the moments where students joined us in dancing, or told us it was the happiest they had felt all week. The panic that students had been experiencing on campus made it a very difficult time to ask for money, or dancing, or smiles — but instead, that day we saw hundreds of students show their love and support for BBCH.

It may not have been the Dance Marathon we imagined, but we are so proud and grateful to have raised $21,396.52 for the children’s hospital anyways.