KINGSTON, R.I.- March 30, 2018- The University of Rhode Island’s first Dance Marathon to support the Children’s Miracle Network was a record-breaker.
Not only did RhodyThon exceed its original $100,000 goal, it raised more than $150,000 for Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, a U.S. record for a first-time event under the auspices of the Children’s Miracle Network.
With more than 1,000 students in attendance at the recent weekend event, the Mackal Field House was filled with energy from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. At around 10 p.m. there was a dip in the energy, and Hailey Flavin, executive director of student affairs for RhodyThon, said some people were questioning whether the participants would make it until the end.
“While we were briefly worried we wouldn’t make it until the end, our fears were almost immediately allayed once the Zumba instructors took the stage,” explained Flavin, a North Kingstown resident. “The crowd erupted with excitement, and you could look across the sea of people all dancing in unison with enthusiasm in their eyes and smiles on their faces. The energy ignited in this moment was like nothing I have ever seen. It gave me chills.”
Despite the fatigue that set in, students completed the marathon in large part because they remembered why they were there. Flavin says one of the most powerful parts of the night was hearing from URI Dean of Students Dan Graney and his family who shared the positive affects the Hasbro Children’s Hospital has had on his entire family, especially his daughter Violet. Violet is now a healthy 3-year old but was born with a rare type of cancer called infantile fibrosarcoma, which presented as a tumor the size of a football on her arm. The successful chemotherapy, surgeries and care she received at Hasbro Children’s Hospital allowed her to be an active participant at RhodyThon.
In terms of RhodyThon’s record breaking success, Flavin and URI Vice President of Student Affairs Kathy Collins agree they were not surprised.
“I see so much strength in our students and having worked with a Dance Marathon at a previous school, I knew an event of this caliber could be immensely powerful,” said Collins. “An event like Dance Marathon brings the campus together – not just students but faculty and staff as well – and it allows you to see and feel the impact you are making.”
Another big moment occurred when the total fundraising amount was revealed to the crowd on large poster boards held up by members who helped plan the event.
“This event was a full year in the making so watching it come to fruition was amazing,” explained senior political science major Jordan Broadbent. “While the basketball tournament and Zumba were among some of the best parts of the evening, being on the stage when we held up signs indicating the amount of money raised was easily one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Broadbent, a Longmeadow, Mass. resident served as the executive director of marketing and outreach for RhodyThon.
“I am overjoyed that people found the same love for this event as I did,” explained Flavin, a senior journalism major with a leadership minor who also serves as president of the Panhellenic Council. “People I barely know were reaching out to me and telling me the event changed their lives and they wanted to join the leadership team in the future. I cannot wait to come back after graduation and see the continuing growth and success of this event.”
Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.