Courtesy of Big Red Thon

Cornellians hosted the seventh annual Big Red Thon in Barton Hall to raise money for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

November 17, 2022

“Dancing Today so the Kids Can Tomorrow”: Cornellians Host Seventh Annual Big Red Thon

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This past Saturday, Cornellians danced together at Barton Hall to support the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital at Cornell’s annual Big Red Thon. This fundraising effort is one of many that has been held since Cornell joined the nationwide Dance Marathon Movement seven years ago. 

Big Red Thon is Cornell’s version of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Dance Marathon, which started in 1991 at Indiana University. Cornell students founded Big Red Thon in 2015 and  have since raised over $115,000 for Syracuse’s children’s hospital. Saturday’s Dance Marathon served as their biggest, most anticipated event and final push to raise more funds by the end of the year. The money they raise this year will be used for mental health resources and facilities at the children’s hospital.

For ten hours, Cornell community members and families connected to the hospital enjoyed games, food and each other’s company while dancing to fight for children’s health. Event planners took turns speaking on stage to participants about the cause and urging people to donate money. Every hour, there would be an announcement to introduce a new “push” to increase involvement and donations; these challenges ranged from requesting donations from friends on Venmo to donating certain amounts to smash pie in the faces of event organizers. 

Select members of the group would occasionally halt the ongoing activities to teach participants a choreographed dance, preparing for a full performance at the end of the event. All students working the event made sure to get the families involved throughout the day, especially the kids. Children connected to the hospital were seen racing though a bouncy house, playing life size CandyLand to go along with the Candy theme, dancing to kid-friendly song selections and even getting up on stage to show off their moves.

Various campus groups also came together to support the event by donating money and participating in the dance marathon. The entire Women’s Lacrosse team made an appearance, working in shifts to ensure that they were present for the entire ten hours. 

Caitlin Slaminko ’25, communications recruitment chair of the Big Red Thon and member of the lacrosse team, was very proud of her team’s involvement. 

“A lot of girls have stepped up big time with fundraising and we didn’t have to push very hard,” Slaminko said. “They knew how great of a cause the Big Red Thon is, and they didn’t have a problem fundraising a lot of money and asking family and friends.”

Other clubs such as The Absolute Zero Break Dance group added to the entertainment by performing alongside the Shadows Dance Troupe, the On Tap Dance Troupe and others. At one point, Absolute Zero even left the stage in order to dance with all of the participants.

Annie Thomas ’23, a board member of Big Red Thon, has been with the group for two years and recalls the rewarding aspect of her work. 

“Big Red Thon means a lot to me since I have been involved with it for a while. I really like working with the families throughout the year,” Thomas said. “We get to visit the hospital and meet the families. Having the kids at the event is really fun so we can see what our fundraising is going towards.”

Two families who have strong connections to Upstate Golisano were also present on Saturday along with their children to enjoy the event. Siobhan Grevelding, whose son Lennox has been a patient of the hospital for his entire life, spoke on stage thanking the participants for their help and all they do for the hospital and her kids. 

“The things that you guys do with these danceathons are what makes that possible for the hospital, and it also makes our stays a little bit easier,” Grevelding said. “It means a lot because we do unfortunately attend there often, so the stuff that comes from this is amazing for our kids so we really appreciate it.”