As “I Got a Feeling” reverberated throughout the Indoor Track Building Saturday afternoon, hundreds of students and families prepared to stand for 24 hours to raise money for local children with disabilities and illnesses.
VictorThon 2017, the capstone event of Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan, serves to bring students and campus organizations together to raise awareness about pediatric rehabilitation, and monetary funds for both C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Beaumont Children’s Hospital. DMUM is the largest student-run, nonprofit organization on campus and in the state of Michigan.
LSA senior Allison Sheehan, DMUM executive director, kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of DMUM’s history, and how much money has been raised since the organization’s inception.
“Throughout DMUM’s 20-year history, this organization has raised over $5 million for the kids,” she said. “To break this down a little further, over the past 20 years, over 15,000 college-age students have stood on their feet for over 528 hours to show the kids and the families that we will never stop supporting them. But what does this all really mean? The true magic of DMUM is that it has the ability to impact so many people in so many different ways.”
LSA junior Sam Boeve, director of DMUM family relations, said he became involved with DMUM after attending VictorThon his freshman year and realizing he wanted to be a part of the organization’s culture and mission.
“I became involved in DMUM as a freshman through my fraternity,” he said. “A couple older guys in Phi Delt were involved in leadership and really stressed DMUM’s amazing cause and mission. The first event I attended was VictorThon, and when I was there, totally immersed in the culture, I knew I wanted to get more involved the next year.”
Boeve added that DMUM is a very diverse group of students, and events such as VictorThon bring people together from across campus.
“Dance Marathon is a huge organization that incorporates a wide variety of student organizations across campus,” he said. “The student orgs range from fraternities and sororities, to other philanthropic orgs. Also, many students join DMUM independently or with friends where they form a team of their own. It is truly incredible how diverse our dancer body is in all aspects.”
As students prepared for the event, they expressed feelings of both nervousness and excitement. Education junior Dominique Tencza explained seeing the children and families, as well as doing homework, helps the time pass more quickly.
“I’m not very prepared for it, but I’m pretty excited,” she said. “When the children come and you see the smiles on their faces, you know it’s all worth it. It’s pretty easy going when the families are here, the time passes pretty fast and there are games going and then different activities all over. Then the rave kind of breaks up the night in between. I have some homework to do so I’ll probably do that.”
The event — and the standing — came to an end on Sunday afternoon with loud music and speakers to keep the participants going through the last couple hours. The event concluded with the organizers revealing the total amount raised from VictorThon this year: $510,702.86.
Kat Walsh, the University’s director of student engagement, expressed gratitude on behalf of the University and Beaumont Children’s Hospital for all the participants.
“And that is what fundraising is all about,” Walsh said. “It’s about a culture of possibility.”
Sheehan asked participants to consider their impact and not lose sight of the many goals of Dance Marathon.
“When we started this event yesterday at 2 p.m., I told you why I stand for the kids and I challenge you to think about why you stand each and every day,” Sheehan said. “Over the past 24 hours, you have helped us show the kids that we will never stop standing until the stigma around disabilities is shattered.”
One of the participants in the Dance Marathon, Rackham student William Winter, has participated before. After 23 hours of standing, he was feeling fatigued but was committed to making it 24 hours and raising money for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Beaumont Children’s Hospital.
“Obviously, it’s for the kids, but I’ve been doing this at Hope College for three years prior,” Winter said. “I’m sore, but it’s for a good cause. It makes you fight a lot harder. Without these kids, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”