Students who danced all night to raise money for Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Saturday kept the environment light and fun — but with a visit from a mother directly affected by the hospital, they also kept in mind the serious cause at hand.
Melissa Stabinski, mother of twin boys who were treated in the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, told her story at the event.
“Our boys were born 13 and a half weeks early, which is way too early to be born,” she said. “They were in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] for three months. They were sick babies — every single system in their body was failing: their lungs, their hearts, but they fought, and fought, and fought. They were strong; they just weren’t strong enough to do it by themselves.”
Stabinski said the hospital relies on donations to function, and events like this saved her children’s lives.
“Events like this are what bought the equipment. So this is really important,” she said. “It’s not like they’re refurbishing offices, they’re buying the equipment to save kids’ lives. So when you do this, you’re actually saving lives. And you don’t know who you’re going to save.”
After 10 hours of dancing, the Greek life-organized event raised more than $10,000, a little over a third of their goal, according to Rachel Engelberg, event organizer and a member of Delta Phi Epsilon.
“With the money we raise we are hoping to be able to donate a playroom to one of the floors of the hospital so the kids who are sick still have a place to be kids and have a childhood,” said Engelberg, a senior majoring in bioengineering. “The idea is to not sit down — we’re standing for those who can’t.”
Monica Efman, a member of Delta Phi Epsilon and a senior majoring in human development, said students had different incentives to come.
”There are great raffle prizes, like gift cards from local businesses,” she said. “To kickstart Greek Week, we’re really looking forward to doing something for the community and to give the kids a place to have fun.”
Though the money was raised for a serious cause, the atmosphere in the West Gym was anything but. The marathon featured three full bounce houses, games, a photo booth and strobe lights.
Each hour, participants danced to the “Morale Dance,” a dance created by the organizers including fist pumping, the hand jive and Carlton’s dance from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Caitlin Sortino, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she had fun and was glad it went to a good cause.
“It’s really nice to see Greek life come together,” she said. “My team from Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi raised over $1,000. We’re really proud.”
Emily Toner, a member of Delta Phi Epsilon and senior majoring in financial economics, said she wants to see the event grow in the future.
“Our goal was $30,000, but we’re happy with anything,” Toner said. “We’re trying to make this an annual event, and hopefully each year it’ll get bigger and better.”
Victoria Carlson, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma and senior majoring in human development, said she considered the event successful despite not meeting the funding goals.
“It really proves that Greek life is a powerful force. And when we all work together, we can create something great,” Carlson said.