Dance Marathon continues helping out kids in need despite pandemic


File Photo

Aztec Dance Marathon raises money for local children’s hospitals. This photo was taken prior to 2020.

by Isabel Smith, Staff Writer

Last February, hundreds of San Diego State students danced the night away at the SDSU Dance Marathon with the goal of raising money for patients and families at Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego.

By the end of the night, the organization had surpassed its donation goal and raised over $365,000, giving Dance Marathon the distinction of being the largest and most successful student-led philanthropic organization on campus.

Throughout the year, the Dance Marathon leadership team holds multiple events on and around campus to spread the word and raise money for the event. All of these fundraising efforts lead up to a 15-hour event where students stay awake and “dance all night for the kids who can’t.”

However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Dance Marathon will be completely virtual and divided into a two-day event.

Although students will not be gathering in Montezuma Hall, the leadership team has worked tirelessly to create a virtual event just as meaningful and engaging as an in-person one.

Hannah Geeser, the executive director of the event, claims that making the transition to a virtual event wasn’t easy but necessary.

“Making the adjustment to a virtual setting has its challenges but those challenges truly don’t compare to what kids and families treated at Rady Children’s Hospital have to go through,” Geeser said. “By moving our event to a virtual setting, it ensures that everyone can participate and be included, no matter where they are in the country. We are so excited to see everyone join together for the kids.”

Public health junior Jenna Huerta first participated in the Dance Marathon last year and says for the first time, she really felt like she had the power to make a difference.

“At the time of the event, my aunt was in the hospital with a complication from a rare type of cancer,’’ she said. “I know the terrible feeling of having a family member in the hospital and feeling like you’re helpless. This was an event that changed everything for me.

“It showed me that there was something that I could do to help.”

Huerta is participating once again this year and has already exceeded her donation goal.

“Being a participant with Dance Marathon, I try to do everything that I can to raise as much money for the kids,” she said. “I have a Facebook fundraiser page that has been very successful and I do a lot of Instagram templates to try to raise money.”

DM at SDSU was created in 2014 by SDSU alumna Emily Carper who was inspired by another dance marathon program and wanted to bring it to campus. Since then, the Dance Marathon has continued to grow every year and has raised a total of almost $1.2 million.

Connor Rudolph, the co-director of morale, says that this event highlights the work that Rady Children’s Hospital does and the importance of helping those in need.

“The importance of this event is to bring attention to the kids that need our help at not only Rady but all other children’s hospitals across the country,” he said. “These hospitals do not turn away any patients due to financial instability, so they thrive off of these fundraising efforts and these events. We truly make miracles happen for children, and that is the best feeling.

“Every kid deserves the chance to be a kid, and our fundraising helps make that a reality, one day at a time.”

For more information on the 2021 Dance Marathon, visit the Dance Marathon SDSU webpage.