BC Dance Marathon Sees Increased Student Support

Bridgette Merriman, MCAS ’20, believes she knows how to unite the Boston College community while also promoting its mission of service: dance.

BC Dance Marathon (BCDM) came back to campus in 2016 after fading out a number of years earlier. The event’s fundraising efforts go toward Boston Children’s Hospital’s Every Child Fund, the hospital’s “emergency fund” that can be used for a variety of needs, such as research and the Child Life program, which is designed to bring comfort to young patients, siblings, and parents.

The themes for this year’s BCDM, which will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Plex, is “Seasons”—throughout the night, theme of the decor will change from season to season.

The marathon, organized by its e-board and the Office of Student Involvement, only raised about $20,000 last year, despite raising $27,000 the year before. But Merriman, BCDM’s president, said that 2018 marked an increase in student support—which was one of the organization’s main goals—with 160 students registering, up from 140 registrants last year.

“We want to be Boston College’s main event,” Merriman said. “We have so many service groups and so many service events, but there’s nothing really that unites BC… Penn State has their THON that raises millions of dollars, Ohio State has their BuckeyeThon, and there’s other similar sized colleges with events that everyone unites around. Why don’t we have one?”

Planning for next year’s event begins immediately after the marathon ends. A leadership team is selected and spends the spring semester learning from the current year’s team. In the fall, the new leadership organizes committee members in preparation for the next marathon.

BCDM has been doing more to promote the event this year, according to Merriman, and it plans on further expanding in the future. The organization collaborated with BC a cappella groups for a riff-off fundraiser last week. It also bring speakers from Boston Children’s Hospital to campus to share their stories and allow students to hear how BCDM supports this local cause. Merriman noted that not being able to collect cash—since the University prohibits this type of fundraising, which can’t be tracked—makes things more difficult.

Merriman described the unique ways people raise money for the event on their own. Some people can make fundraising teams with friends or with their clubs, and many use their Instagram stories to fundraise, asking for donations in exchange for baking cookies or posting embarrassing photos.

Aside from dancing, the event features challenges, games, obstacle courses, karaoke, and free food. The total amount raised is announced in a “ball-drop” fashion at the end of the night.

BCDM invites children and families who have benefitted from the fundraising efforts to the event. Merriman said that it is moving to put a face to the people BCDM’s efforts have helped, but the idea of the event is to have fun.

“[The focus] is on keeping children children,” she said.

Featured Image by Madison Sarka / For the Heights