Upbeat music vibrated from Barton Hall Saturday afternoon as crowds gathered in the gym for the annual Big Red Thon. Multi-colored lights lit up the crowd of students dancing along to the music — a mix of the Little Einsteins Theme Song and current pop songs.
The event marked the fifth year of Cornell’s Big Red Thon, a dance marathon that raises funds and awareness for the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York.
The event runs from 2 p.m. until midnight, with each hour featuring a special event such as performances from dance or a cappella groups, lip-sync battles and story times — during which students met the “Miracle Children.” These children are patients of the Miracle Children’s Network, comprised of 170 children’s hospitals, 10 million patients and 97 corporate partners, according to the Big Red Thon Instagram page.
By the end of the night, Big Red Thon was able to raise over $27,000 from the almost 700 people who registered for the event, according to the group’s Instagram post.
One of the “Miracle Children,” two-year-old Logan, came onstage with his mother as she spoke about the impact of the hospital network after she discovered her son was sick.
Surgeons were able to remove Logan’s neuroblastoma due to its early detection, his mother said, and spared him the process of chemotherapy or radiation.
The Big Red Thon Facebook page states that all funds this year will be going to the just-established Golisano Center for Special Needs, a branch of the children’s hospital where Logan and his mother spent 10 days during his treatment.
The center will have the capacity to treat up to 7,600 children per year, according to a recent press release, and is dedicated to “providing care and treatment for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, sensory impairments, and more.”
“Upstate Golisano gets less than 5 percent of its funding from the state, so every dollar we raise goes a really long way,” said Natalie Brown ’20, co-head of the e-board of Big Red Thon. “We’re going into our fifth year now. So we’ve made over $110,000 since [the] dance marathon started at Cornell and again that all goes straight to the hospital.”
This year, more than 30 teams participated, with groups including both social and pre-professional fraternities and sororities, On Tap Dance Troupe, Shadows Dance Troupe, Base Productions, Pandora Dance Troupe, Cornell Track and Field and more.
Apart from dancing, there were stations set up for arts and crafts, snacks, hula hoops, Spikeball, balloons and inflatables.
“I think it’s really great because everyone can come together and just try to raise money together and in a really fun way because you’re also dancing, you also have a fun time with your friends,” said Rebekah Kang ’22, a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. “Rather than raising money through such rigid ways, which aren’t fun, this is a better way, I think.”
Bhavya Bhushan ’20, another co-head of the e-board of Big Red Thon and a member of APO, has also been involved in the event for the past three years.
“We’re in upstate New York and we’re here for four years, and it’s important to remember that we’re not just here as a part of Cornell. We live here and we’re a part of this community and we can actually help the people around us,” Bhushan said.