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Monica Buchanan, Director, Corporate Communications
Since 2000, tens of thousands of University of Connecticut students have capped an annual year-long fundraising campaign called HuskyTHON with an 18-hour dance marathon to benefit patient care at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Exceeding all previous fundraising goals, this year’s event, held February 23-24 at the Hugh S. Greer Field House on the UConn campus in Storrs, raised an amazing $1,328,402.19 to support patient care at Connecticut Children’s.
“We believe that kids across the state deserve to be happy and healthy – that’s why we do what we do,” said Kailey Cox, Co-Executive Director of the 2019 HuskyTHON. “We come from all over the world, but come together for one purpose—For The Kids.”
“We dedicated our 20th year to cultivating an even stronger community and enhancing the lives of our miracle families,” said Co-Executive Director Natalie Wickenheisser. “Every cent we raised goes directly to the Medical Center to help give children and their families the care they deserve.” This year, 3,100 students were joined by 44 Connecticut Children’s patients and their families. Each child was sponsored by a fraternity, sorority or other student group, and they were celebrated throughout the weekend, entering the Field House through an arch of balloons, with their names on banners and thousands of students cheering them on while the UConn marching band played.
Each hour, a patient family shared their Connecticut Children’s care story while the audience listened attentively. The moving story was followed by a “morale dance,” an elaborate set of choreographed dance moves created each year by UConn students and performed in unison.
The excitement built through all 18 hours of the dance marathon, culminating in the big moment Sunday at noon, when the dollar total was announced. When students onstage held up the placards with numbers representing the fundraising total and the dancers saw what they had achieved, the fieldhouse erupted in deafening cheers, while many in attendance broke down in tears, from both exhaustion and the sheer joy of being part of such an overwhelming success.
“When they announced the total money raised,” says Camella Mollica, whose 9-year-old daughter Bianca was a participant at HuskyTHON, “Bianca was in my arms crying her eyes out.”
This year’s achievement brings UConn’s 20-year total to $6,198,599.06.
“The achievement by these students is remarkable,” said Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Connecticut Children’s, “but even more remarkable is their spirit of caring and their dedication to the children and families we serve. They demonstrate the power of a community coming together in a common cause, and they inspire all of us every day.”
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