All University functions were cancelled this semester, but members of Dance Marathon at LSU found a unique way to continue fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The student-run organization created a virtual version of their famous 24-hour dance event.
Industrial engineering junior and Dance Marathon finance director Kaitryana Leinbach hopes the new platform will lead to increased participation.
“Going online will make the event more accessible,” Leinbach said.
Since its inception in 2013, Dance Marathon at LSU has raised over $1,000,000 for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.
The new virtual format will stream across multiple platforms starting at noon on April 18 and continue through April 19 at 11:30 a.m., and will allow anyone with a screen to view the philanthropic event.
The production team is continuing to research various streaming platforms, but it is confirmed viewers may access the event through YouTube and Facebook Live.
Leinbach said some of the platforms they are considering let multiple computers film. Dance Marathon members could teach the Morale Dance from their personal laptops, and later switch to hearing different Miracle Kids’ stories of their time as patients at OLL Children’s Hospital. The Morale Dance is a dance number performed periodically throughout the event to keep participants motivated, and the Miracle Kids are any current or former patients at OLOL Children’s Hospital.
“It’s definitely interesting to navigate, but we’re really excited for the challenge,” Leinbach said. “We’re excited to see what we can do.”
Despite the challenges of transferring the event to an online environment, the virtual format enables more Miracle Kids and their families to participate.
Originally about 11 Miracle Families volunteered their time to speak during the 24-hour event, but mass communications senior and director of public relations Elizabeth Nguyen said more have come forward to participate in the online event and interact with viewers.
Previously, participants paid a fee of $10 to participate in the marathon. However, due to the stay-at home order, those who sign up in the remaining time before April 18 do not have to pay. Those who already paid are invited to participate next year, free of charge.
In addition to the main event, the students of Dance Marathon launched a social media campaign, ‘Stay Home for the Kids’, to raise awareness for their cause and unite people through social media.
Beginning April 1 running through April 12, Dance Marathon’s Twitter account will be posting daily challenges, such as sharing recipes or collecting spare change. Those who compete all 12 challenges are eligible to win a free shirt.
Who are you staying home for? For the next 12 days and beyond, we encourage you to stay home with us #FTK. Complete all 12 daily challenges to win a FREE shirt! And don't forget FREE registration until the Big Event on April 18th ☺️ #StayingHomeForTheKids https://t.co/mQedRzP9Go pic.twitter.com/oHVsCqv00K— Dance Marathon at LSU (@DMatLSU) April 1, 2020
“We’re just trying to keep our mission alive and increase awareness for the kids,” said Nguyen.
Leinbach said she hopes their efforts will be a ‘beacon of hope,’ and give people a sense of purpose during a difficult time.
“Our mission for the rest of the semester, regardless of how much money we raise, is to maintain that sense of community,” Leinbach said.