Music was thumping, students were grooving, kids were cheering and charity was overflowing.
This was the scene at Saturday’s immensely successful second annual Raiderthon, a dance marathon that brought the Wright State community together to raise money for and awareness of local children fighting life-threatening illnesses.
By the end of the 15-hour event, participants had raised $61,018 for Dayton Children’s Hospital, topping last year’s total of $50,389.
During the event, hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members flooded the Student Union Apollo Room for nonstop dancing and celebrating. But dancing wasn’t the only activity on the Raiderthon docket. A myriad of lively activities ranging from Harry Potter trivia to a pizza eating contest to a demonstration by a hypnotist took place.
Jackie Kucirka, president of Raiderthon, said that throughout the event, no one lost sight of the real reason for dancing.
“The kids and their families are always the heart of Raiderthon,” said Kucirka. “They kept us going and gave us our purpose.”
Children whose lives have been saved by Dayton Children’s Hospital, like siblings 10-year-old Ella and 8-year-old Jude Bowman, joined participants on the dance floor. Ella beat cancer thanks to Dayton Children’s, and Jude is being treated there for a neurological disorder.
Dayton Children’s provides care every year for more than 290,000 infants, children and teens. The hospital offers everything from checkups to specialty clinics to intensive care and surgeries.
Kucirka said a majority of the raised money will be spent on giraffe beds in the neonatal intensive care units, where premature or ill infants are cared for.
Each hour of the event was dedicated to celebrate the lives and triumphs of 16 miracle kids and their families. Throughout the night Ella, Jude and other miracle kids shared their inspirational stories of overcoming medical obstacles.
“I was blown away by the sense of community Wright State generated for the event,” said Kayla Muncie, who was at Raiderthon for the full 15 hours and was exhausted at the time of this interview.
She said Raiderthon has grown into something huge since she attended last year’s event as a freshman.
“I’m just so proud to be a Raider and to be here for the kids,” Muncie said. “There really is no greater cause.”
Wright State’s Greek community also turned up in scores to support the cause.
Matt Buford, a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said it was amazing experience to support children and help save their lives.
“The fact that we as a community have met and exceeded our goal two years in row speaks volumes to the success of the event,” he said.
Kucirka said she was floored when she and the Raiderthon committee revealed to a cheering crowd at the end of the event that the dance marathon had raised $61,018.
“Everyone in the room started chanting FTK (For The Kids),” she said. “I stood onstage unable to move because I was in awe of the passion behind the chant. I have to thank our miracle families. We wouldn’t exist without their support. I know I can speak for the committee when I say they have changed our lives.”
Kucirka also thanked the Raiderthon committee and advisers Gary Dickstein and Alyssa Cannella for their hard work, as well as the sponsors and supporters, including BLC Entertainment for helping to create a lively environment for the event.
“We also couldn’t have done anything without the support of the university, the colleges that sponsored us,” said Kucirka. “There are many schools who don’t have the support we do at Wright State University, and it makes a world of difference.”