Dance Marathon at SDSU surpasses $321,000 fundraising goal


Courtesy of Jenna Snyder

Dance Marathon at SDSU surpassed its fundraising goal of $321,000 on Saturday morning after 15 hours of dancing.

by Chelsey Crowne, Staff Writer

After 15 hours of non-stop dancing and over six months of campaigning, hundreds of San Diego State students gathered in Montezuma Hall on Saturday morning to witness the reveal of this year’s Dance Marathon at SDSU’s fundraising total – $322,219.54.

This year’s fifth annual Dance Marathon at SDSU, like all others before it, took place with the goal of generating funds to support San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital. The intended goal of $321,000 was surpassed and the event received the distinction of being the “best in the west.”

Young patients and their families were also in attendance, including 8-year-old “Iron” Gideon Robinson, the Dance Marathon at SDSU executive board’s “Rady Rockstar” and youngest member.

“Dance marathon makes me feel like a rockstar,” Robinson said. “It’s awesomely good.”

Robinson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 5 years old. After 1,095 days of fighting cancer, he took his final oral chemotherapy pill and rang the bell, symbolizing the end of treatment on stage. Although the Robinsons live approximately 70 miles from Rady Children’s Hospital, they chose for Gideon Robinson to receive treatment there due to the quality of care and dedication of staff.

“The clinical things Rady Children’s does are impeccable, but the emotional support they provide families at the most vulnerable times is just as notable, if not more,” public relations senior and Dance Marathon at SDSU Executive Director Kiara Proctor said.

Other special guests at the event included former “So You Think You Can Dance?” contestant Allison Holker, who hosted a “Kiddo Talent Show” showcasing young dancers, singers and a rapper. All of the performers had some connection to Rady Children’s Hospital, either as a current or former patient or the loved one of a patient. Throughout the night, speakers of all ages and diagnoses shared their stories.

“I love hearing the stories of those who have been directly impacted by Rady’s because that is what puts our position and abilities into perspective,” said political science and business senior Shivani Patel, who was also the highest fundraising non-executive board member.

One of those patients highlighted was Madison Taylor, whose story served as a reminder as to why students keep participating in the fundraiser.

Madi was a 14-year-old girl who was featured at the 2017 event after achieving remission from cancer for the second time. Shortly afterwards, her disease returned and she passed away the following October.

“We refer to every kiddo at our event as a miracle kid, and it was devastating for the entire Dance Marathon community to lose such a young miracle,” Proctor said. “Since her passing, we think of Madi in everything we do.”

Several hours into the event, a candlelit vigil was held and the second annual Madison Georgine Taylor award for a dancer who embodies joy, resilience and courage as Madi did was presented to student Kenya Flores.

The dance marathon hosted at the university is part of Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a movement benefitting the nonprofit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals that raises funds and awareness for more than 170 North American children’s hospitals, according to its website. Since 1991, more than $250 million has been raised.

The first Dance Marathon at SDSU was planned in 2014 by SDSU alumna Emily Carper. Since then, over $800,000 has been raised for Rady Children’s Hospital. It’s currently the largest student-run philanthropic movement at SDSU, according to its website.