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Dance Marathon kicks off an unprecedented season

October 16, 2020

Despite a remote semester, Bowdoin’s Dance Marathon Team has maintained their passion for pediatrics and their desire to brighten the lives of children struggling with life-threatening medical conditions at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. The club is hoping to preserve its relationship with the hospital and its patients that began when Audrey Aitelli ’20 founded the club in the spring of 2017.

Typically, the club hosts a kickoff event on National Child Health Day on October 5 and encourages participation and involvement throughout the year by hosting events, such as the fall festival. This year, the kickoff event was virtual and co-hosted with the Bates Dance Marathon Team. Devin McKinney ’21 and Alex Rubenstein ’21, who are on the executive board, collaborated with representatives from Bates and two contacts at the hospital. Attendees were given the opportunity to meet Brayden, an immunocompromised patient receiving treatment at the hospital to which raised funds are allocated.

McKinney thought the event went well and gave Brayden a platform to answer questions, explain his experience at the hospital and elaborate on how donations are contributing to his well-being. McKinney said that Brayden particularly enjoyed a video screen that can be inserted into his functional MRI scans to make a normally scary experience significantly less intimidating.

Dance Marathon raised $36,000 last year to support MRIs and medical treatments. This year, the team hopes to raise $40,000.

“We were really happy with our monetary results last year, and I’m confident that we will be able to reach, even surpass, our goal this year despite COVID-19 complications. The donations really make a tangible difference in these children’s lives,” said McKinney in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

The team would obviously prefer to host in-person events but is remaining optimistic and hoping to compensate with engaging virtual programming instead. McKinney said the team has brainstormed art nights, movie nights and trivia nights to engage students on campus during the fall semester. The team has also toyed with the idea of a For The Kids (FTK) virtual 5k to raise funds and encourage physical exercise among both Bowdoin students and Barbara Bush patients.

McKinney is disappointed that the team will not be able to physically interact with the children as they normally do but knows that their contributions will have a significant impact regardless of whether or not the team can see the kids face to face.

“It all circles back to our motivations for joining the team,” she said. “We share a genuine passion for service and helping others. We recognize that putting forth our efforts to raise money for the hospital is important all of the time and not just when we can physically interact with the children.”

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