UConn Students Dance Their Way to $1.48 million for Connecticut Children’s at 24th Annual HuskyTHON

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2023
Media Contact:

Monica Buchanan, Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Connecticut Children’s

Hartford, CT- Nearly 30 children and teens, ranging in age from 3 to 16, received a VIP welcome as they joined more than 3,900 University of Connecticut students—the highest number for any university in the U.S. this year—who danced from 6 a.m. through midnight raising funds to benefit patient care at Connecticut Children’s. The 24th annual 18-hour dance marathon, held March 4 in the Hugh S. Greer Field House on the Storrs campus, topped off an annual year-long fundraising campaign known as HuskyTHON, which raised more than $1.48 million to benefit the only health system in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children.

“I am consistently amazed by the strength and perseverance of the HuskyTHON community,” said John Leahy, HuskyTHON’s executive director. “For 2023, HuskyTHON’s year-long campaign was Go Beyond. Together, more than 3,900 UConn students pledged to Go Beyond for the kids and families of Connecticut Children’s, so that we may one day Go Beyond childhood illness. It is truly inspiring.”

Cold Day, Courage Abounds

Each year, HuskyTHON kicks off its dance marathon by forming a human tunnel to welcome patients and their families. The event was back in the Hugh S. Greer Field House, after relocating outdoors for the last two years, due to COVID protocols. Despite Friday night’s snow and ice storm, the Field House heated up and hearts warmed as each child, accompanied by a fraternity, sorority or other student group, was met with cheers and thunderous applause.

This year, six patients and their families attended the event for the first time, including Brian Roy, who receives care from Connecticut Children’s Craniofacial team. Before being introduced on stage in front of thousands of cheering UConn students, six-year-old Brian’s nerves nearly got the best of him. That’s when his dancer representatives—members of Club Swim and Pi Kappa—sprang into action. The students, who had been fundraising all year to help Connecticut Children’s patients, like Brian, reassured him, as he was hoisted onto his father Phil’s shoulders. Surrounded by his new friends, Brian took center stage to chants of ‘BRI-AN! BRI-AN!’. When he was asked what his “miracle word” was, Brian confidently chimed, “Courage!”

HuskyTHON is more than a special treat for the patients who are celebrated, but it’s a terrific opportunity for their families, too. “I’m excited to see the kids interact with other children and adults,” said Brian’s mother, Amanda Roy. “I really want Brian to be comfortable talking about his diagnosis and the surgeries he’s had. I’m looking forward to him opening up, in general, but also having a ton of fun today in the bounce hours and with a lot of dancing!”

Another One for the Books

The 2022 HuskyTHON raised $1,340,670.68—a remarkable achievement, considering students continued to fundraise and plan for their annual dance marathon in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As midnight and the end of 18 hours of continuous dancing arrived, the students revealed the total money raised by their 2022 efforts as they held up placards onstage with numbers representing the fundraising total: $1,480,255.77. This year’s achievement brings UConn’s 24-year total to more than $11.5 million in support of Connecticut Children’s.

“It is fitting this year’s HuskyTHON theme is Go Beyond,” said Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Connecticut Children’s. “Our amazing nurses, doctors and team members Go Beyond every day to provide the finest care for our patients and support for their families. Because of the extraordinary efforts of UConn students, we will have more of the resources we need to deliver exceptional pediatric care and keep growing to serve more children in Connecticut and beyond. We are grateful and in awe of what this class of Huskies has been able to achieve.”

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