March 2, 2016
After 12 hours on her feet as part of Virginia Commonwealth University’s inaugural RamTHON fundraiser, Sanica Bendre fell to the floor when she learned what she and hundreds of other student dancers had accomplished with all of their hard work.
The dance marathon event, held Saturday at the University Student Commons, raised more than $31,000 for Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital affiliate.
“I collapsed,” Bendre said. “I broke down and started crying because I’ve been working toward it for two years.”
Bendre first learned about dance marathons through friends at Penn State, where a large one is staged every year. She soon became motivated to start one at VCU. For the inaugural event, organizers chose the theme “Everyday Heroes,” inspired by the patients at CHoR.
We’re pretty much dancing for the kids who can’t because they are spending 364 days a year in the hospital.
“We’re pretty much dancing for the kids who can’t because they are spending 364 days a year in the hospital,” Bendre said.
Interest grew as the spring semester started, with 400 to 450 students participating.
“We were all over the place. We were writing on boards, writing in classrooms,” Bendre said of the eight-member RamTHON executive board. A senior psychology major in the College of Humanities and Sciences, she was glad to see a big jump in sign-ups in February.
“Students come for 12 hours and they’re not dancing the entire time, but they’re not allowed to sit – which is pretty hard for 12 hours,” said Lindsey Dombert, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life.
Motivation to keep moving came from DJ-selected music, an assortment of games and visits from Dogs on Call teams, the Gold Rush Dancers, the Ramifications singing group and the Peppas band. VCU Health doctors and the children and families served by CHoR also visited to share their stories.
“A family went up on stage and spoke, talking about the procedures that their girl had gone through,” Dombert said. “It was probably hour nine or ten but nothing compared to what they were hearing those kids were going through.”
“It was very eye-opening because … they know they are donating to the hospital but they don’t know the people. It was a good effect, everyone started realizing we’re really making a difference,” Bendre added. RamTHON also featured an “inspiration room” where students could meet the patients and their families, and write letters to other children at CHoR.RamTHON participants pose for a photo with Blake Hassmer, one of the Children's Hospital of Richmond patients who visited the event. [View Image] RamTHON participants pose for a photo with Blake Hassmer, one of the Children's Hospital of Richmond patients who visited the event.
VCU’s event, and the fundraising leading up to the dance marathon, were far above average for a first-year event. The national average is about $18,000, and the most-common amount raised is about $12,000. The number was unveiled by students holding up numbers around 10 p.m.
“These students really blew both numbers out of the water. They did a great job for a first-year dance marathon,” Dombert said.
More than 400 dance marathon events are being held this year to benefit Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, with more than $18,690,000 of donations to date.
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