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The Fordham Dance Marathon



Fordham University


The Fordham Dance Marathon

It's back, bigger, and better than ever

Liam Mckeone


Read time: 9 min.
Photography by Emma DiMarco and Sabrina Thadani

Close your eyes: it’s 2009, you’re dancing around without a care in the world, head-banging to Opposite of Adults, and life is good. But when you open your eyes, it’s not 2009, it’s 2018, and you’re in the Lombardi Fieldhouse, raging to Chiddy Bang in a crowd of college students celebrating a year’s worth of fundraising for pediatric cancer.

That’s right, the Fordham Dance Marathon is back, they’re bringing Chiddy Bang to campus, and YOU (yes, you) can be there in person! How, you ask? Just make a small donation to the great cause of the marathon, and you have access to ten hours of concerts, dancing, food, and a front row seat to performances by some of Fordham’s most talented groups. The marathon will be in full swing on Friday, and this year, it's one you just can't miss.

FDM 2017, provided by Fordham Dance Marathon

The event is organized by a combination of 42 committee and chair members from all walks of life at Fordham, with representatives from The Ram, the Residence Hall Association (RHA), and everything in between. The organization is also paired with The B+ Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer of all forms. Running for the fifth year, the Dance Marathon is going to be the biggest it’s ever been, with a special performance by Chiddy Bang that the team hopes will bring in more money than ever before.

But where exactly will all this money be going? The B+ Foundation provides direct financial assistance for struggling families with children who have pediatric cancer, as well as spreading awareness about the cause. Perhaps most significantly, they also use donations for research grants to end pediatric cancer; every bit counts, as only 4% of the National Cancer institute's budget is allocated towards pediatric cancer.

The foundation, which works with colleges and high schools throughout the country, also pairs five “Heroes”, local children affected by pediatric cancer, with each school, including Fordham. This year, the Fordham Dance Marathon team has pledged to raise $100,000 for the foundation after raising $91,800 last year. While it’s a lofty goal, the team has been working all year to meet the number, and with less than a week to go before the marathon, at the time of this publishing, currently sits at $75,000.

The biggest individual fundraiser of the year is the marathon, but the team works on securing donations from all facets of the Fordham community. They work to secure donations through gift cards and food from various restaurants in the area, including the beloved Pugsley’s and Burger Lodge. Their biggest event outside of the dance marathon is an auction, and they hold fundraising dinners and beer and wine tasting at various points throughout the year; this year, the events were all raging successes, leading the team to raise a record $75,000 before the marathon. Sometimes their fundraising is as simple as waiting outside Pugsley’s at midnight on a Friday, asking students returning from their night out to donate the leftover fifty cents from their pizza order to the cause.

From left to right: RHA President Sara Chesnos, Entertainment Chair JC Evans, Executive Director Claire Polacheck, Operations Coordinator Haley Hauge

The team knows that not all college kids can afford to give financially, and work to provide alternative ways to attend events, where students can fundraise themselves or send emails about B+ to family and friends. “College kids care about the cause, but usually don’t have the funds to support it. We can get more energy and spirit from college students than money” said Haley Hauge, FCRH ’18, the former Executive Director and the current Operations Coordinator for the marathon. Oftentimes, the team can raise more money by tapping into a student’s enthusiasm than their wallets.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that students don’t contribute. A chunk of the money raised by the team each year comes from from the Resident Hall Association, which hosts events throughout fundraising season in each respective dorm to help raise money for the marathon. “Each hall is responsible for their own donations, so while it’s on a much smaller scale, it makes a big difference” said Claire Polacheck, FCRH '19, Executive Director of Fordham Dance Marathon and Vice President of RHA. She estimates that, between the 14 halls, each event pulls about $100-200 apiece. Events include mini-games to win gift cards from places like Amazon and restaurants and bakeries in the area.

One of the most popular events, according to JC Evans, Gabelli ’20, President of Finlay Hall, and Entertainment Chair for Fordham Dance Marathon, is “Pie Your RA”, where student donate money for the privilege of throwing a pie into their RA or RD’s face. Evans was also president of Alumni Court South his freshman year, where he hosted events like a haunted house that ended up being a big hit for students, despite any reluctance they may have about attending an RHA event.

The main event is, of course, the dance marathon. The team secured Chiddy Bang as their musical act this year, a huge step forward for the young organization and one that they hope will set a precedent for future Fordham Dance Marathons. "We’re really excited to bring hip-hop back to campus, and hopefully the big name will draw more people” said Evans. Chiddy Bang is an exciting addition, and one that the team hopes will bring the events to new heights.

In the past, the event was hosted in the McGinley Ballroom or in O’Keefe Commons, but the marathon is now being hosted in the Lombardi Field House, which was a big step in terms of confirming how big they want the event to get. “In the past, FDM has been really, really fun, but it’s been low-key… We’re now having a full production concert in the field house with the same sound system they use for Pres Ball and Spring Weekend. It’s a real concert” said Evans, who noted that this was easily the biggest set-up for any Fordham Dance Marathon.

Chiddy Bang will be the finale of the evening, going on at 11 P.M. The up-and-coming electronic production duo Saen. will be performing at 10, as well as the student band Free Advertising at 9. The team will be hosting events throughout honoring the Heroes from the B+ foundation, who will be in attendance after they’ve spent the previous week hanging out at Fordham, being treated to dinner and playing games with the football team. The marathon also invites student organizations to come and perform during the event, which this year includes Slainte at 2, Expressions at 4, and Flava at 6.

The event runs from 2 P.M. to midnight, but for any student worried about the longevity of the event, the team encourages them to think about the marathon as a mini-festival—there’s always going to be something going on, and they can come and go as they please. Food will be served all day, and each hour, on the hour, a Line Dance will be performed by everyone in the venue, set to a montage of all the best songs from the past year. There will also be several themes scattered throughout the hours to keep everyone entertained and the party going. “It’s such a strange combination of events, but everything flows so well and it’s awesome” said Polacheck. Tickets will be $10 pre-sale, and $15 at the door. After surpassing their goal last year, the team hopes that the marathon will allow them to reach the $100,000 mark and leave a lasting impression on Fordham’s campus that will help ensure the success of future marathons.

"We’re raising awareness and funds to help fight childhood cancer because 46 kids are told they have cancer every school day and that’s 46 too many" reads the Fordham Dance Marathon slogan on the B+ website. "We’re partnering with The B+ Foundation to help fund research and support families of kids with cancer nationwide. You can help us beat our goal and beat childhood cancer by making a donation or joining a team today."

Whether you donate on your own, fundraise, or just want to go to the dance, help the team reach their goal of $100,000 and bring everyone one step closer to eliminating pediatric cancer.

Donate and keep track of the Fordham Dance Marathon team's goal here, and be sure to keep up with any updates regarding the marathon on March 9th on the team's Facebook page!