By Ronica Hutchison–
This year, close to 1,000 students will be dancing for 18 hours straight in the annual U of L RaiseRED dance marathon. The event will begin at 6 p.m. on Feb. 26.
Many students have expressed their appreciation for RaiseRED, in addition to why they feel the need to contribute by donating and dancing.
“When a child is diagnosed with cancer or a blood disease, their entire world flips upside down. Everything changes,” said Taylor Wilson, who serves on the RaiseRED Executive Board. “Mom and Dad now have to get second jobs to afford treatment or quit their jobs to stay with their sick child. Siblings have to spend time with distant relatives while their parents are tending to their child with disease. RaiseRED doesn’t seek to solve the world’s problems or end disease with one dance marathon. Rather, RaiseRED provides hope for families and children affected by disease.”
Several U of L students have gotten on board with RaiseRED’s mission. Each dancer must raise at least $100 to take part in the event, but participants are encouraged to raise much more than the minimum.
The proof is in the numbers: last year, $226,000 was raised by over 700 students. This year, however, fundraising totals and dancer participants are increasing. The total fundraising goal this year is $300,000. Over $200,000 of that goal has already been met, not including sponsor donations that will be presented during the marathon’s final reveal.
In addition to individual dancer goals, Greek teams are exceeding their fundraising expectations. Emily Brazell, who serves on the RaiseRED Executive Board as Dancer Relations Coordinator, has cited Greek life as a key component of the event.
“The Greek community is such a vital part of RaiseRED Dance Marathon because these groups bring in the most dancers and dollars raised for the kids. These students are driven, compassionate young people who strive to make a difference in the local Louisville community. The UofL Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Clinic is so grateful for these groups’ support, since the money we fundraise goes toward making actual changes for families. In the past two years, part of our fundraising has gone to hiring a social worker for the clinic who now serves families and kids full-time,” said Brazell.
Based on the Top 10 Leaderboard Reports for Amount Raised, the Greek community at UofL has been stepping up to the plate. Fraternity and sorority members have been signing up in droves, as well as taking on prominent leadership roles involved with RaiseRED.
Jake Guhy, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, is serving as a Team Leader during this year’s marathon. “I have to give a lot of credit to my fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, but also to the entire Greek community for providing the backbone of support and participation in the dance marathon. Coming together with members of every organization to make a difference has been a great experience,” said Guhy.
Looking just at Greek teams, currently in first place is Kappa Delta ($8,460), with Pi Beta Phi ($8,360) Delta Zeta ($8,035) coming in second and third, respectively. (Last updated Feb. 25, 2016 12:15 PM).
In addition to more dancer participation this year, RaiseRED has had some exciting opportunities to work with new sponsors.
“We are still growing and every year we make new strides. Soon we will have people knocking on our door to be a part of this. Three years ago, when we rebranded the organization and re-birthed it, we never could’ve imagined having 988 registered dancers in our third year,” said Wilson.
“Papa John’s will be our presenting sponsor this year, with a sponsorship of $50,000. Several other local companies have stepped up and made our event possible as well. We will begin working on the 2017 dance marathon immediately after this year’s marathon and every year we will continue to grow and create new partnerships with local and national businesses looking to help our success,” said Wilson.
For those not participating, final fundraising totals will be posted at www.Raisered.org. All are invited to attend community hour at 9 a.m. on Feb. 27 to show U of L student dancers support.