October 26, 2015

Cornell to Host First Ivy League Dance Marathon

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Barton Hall will transform into a dance floor on Nov. 7 to host the Ivy League’s first dance marathon, Big Red Thon.

About 500 Cornellians have signed up to dance continuously for 13 hours — from Saturday through Sunday — raising nearly $15,000 out of their $50,000 goal as of Monday evening for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Chelsea Assang ’16, dance and morale captain of Big Red Thon, said the dance marathon will be divided into different dance themes.

“[There will be a] hip hop hour, a rave hour [and] a Zumba hour to keep it very versatile so it appeals to a wider population,” Assang said. “We want to keep our crowd energized and wanting to fundraise for such a great cause.”

Participants who wish to take a break from dancing can enjoy other activities such as a bounce house, a carnival and performances from some of Cornell’s dance and a cappella groups.

As an added incentive, Big Red Thon will also feature some special guest appearances.

“The head of pediatrics from [Upstate Golisano] will be coming,” said Alexandra Hill-Ricciuti ’16, executive director of Big Red Thon. “We will also have Miracle Children — some of the children who have been treated at Upstate Golisano — and their families will be coming in and speaking as well.”

The Phi Mu fraternity and pre-medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon are sponsoring the event. However, while Assang and Hill-Ricciuti said they are honored to bring Big Red Thon to Cornell, they do not want the event to be exclusively associated with Greek life.

“We think keeping it within the confines of a sorority will not give Big Red Thon the potential to grow as much as it should,” Hill-Ricciuti said.

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is the local branch of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Phi Mu and Phi Delta Epsilon, which share the philanthropy, will donate proceeds from the event to the organization.

“All of the donations from the event are going to support the expansion of the pediatric emergency department,” Hill-Ricciuti said.

The hospital is the sole source of various medical services for families in and around the area, and requires support to keep its doors open. According to Hill-Ricciuti, the hospital is “designed with children in mind.”

Assang mirrored this sentiment, saying that “this is the most unique hospital that I’ve ever seen.”

“From the ground level up, they’ve just put so much detail into what they do,” Assang said. “They make sure all of the machines that are seen in usual hospital rooms are behind the walls, so these kids aren’t scared of the machines [being] next to them, and there’s windows all around, so you don’t feel like you’re enclosed.”

Hill-Ricciuti said she promises Big Red Thon will be “the best all-nighter you will pull at Cornell.”