Last year, Bowdoin’s Dance Marathon chapter raised $30,000 for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. However, two-thirds of the money was raised by just 13 individuals, so this year the group is testing out new methods to increase donations and club member participation.
Dance Marathon is incentivizing participation through a series of smaller events held throughout the year. It has hosted two events so far, and over 75 students have already registered to participate and help fundraise. In the club’s most recent event last Saturday, students were able to meet some of the children from the hospital.
“We had the children there so you could see what you’re actually donating towards and fundraising for,” said co-leader Rodger Heidgerken ’20.
The club hopes to raise $40,000 this year, a sum which will go to the hospital to provide toys and activities to keep the children’s spirits high. The funds will also be used to help the hospital pay their full-time teacher so that students can continue curricula during treatment.
“Getting to help these kids enjoy their childhood the best they can is really special,” said co-leader Audrey Aitelli ’20. “The money that we fundraised in the past years has gone to different initiatives like putting an Xbox in every single room in the hospital or paying for bears or different games that the kids can play while they’re there.”
Although the club is trying to expand its core of fundraisers, Heidgerken noted that it does not matter that most of the money raised last year came from a handful of people.
“The fact that the majority of our funding came from [the efforts of] 13 people, I don’t take that as a bad thing,” said Heidgerken. “It means that we have 13 people who are incredibly involved with the cause itself.”
Still, Dance Marathon sees the importance in growing the chapter. Aitelli and Heidgerken emphasize that getting involved is easy and does not have to be a stressful time commitment.
“You don’t have to do something every single week. Really, you can register for the event, forget about it, and then that’s all, if that’s all you want to do or can do,” said Heidgerken.
Aitelli emphasized the growth in the participation of the club since its founding.
“If you look at our first year we had a lot of people that registered but then didn’t end up fundraising at all and their main participation was coming to the event,” said Aitelli. “If you compare our very first year to last year when we put a lot of emphasis on teaching people how to fundraise and pushing people to fundraise, we had significantly more people fundraise something.”
At the end of November, Dance Marathon will collaborate with Bowdoin’s men’s and women’s basketball teams by tabling at their games against the University of New England to rally more participants.
“This is the first time we’re doing a partnership with a sports team like this,” said Heidgerken. “It’s not just Dance Marathon tabling at basketball, it’s Dance Marathon and basketball working together.”
“Our motto for the year is ‘A Marathon You Don’t Have to Train For’,” he added. “You don’t have to dance to do Dance Marathon. You don’t have to be athletically fit. You don’t even have to stand up to do Dance Marathon. All you have to do is show up, fundraise for the hospital, be there for the kids and put yourself in a place where you can help other people.”