Students in tie-dyed T-shirts and neon tutus swayed and twirled to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” as it blasted through the multi-activity courts of the Margot Connell Recreation Center. Nearby, families played Skee-Ball as an inflatable obstacle course towered over toddlers in the corner of the room.
The Boston College Dance Marathon (BCDM) culminated its year of fundraising and events last Saturday. All of the proceeds raised by BCDM throughout the year, as well as at its closing event, go to Boston Children’s Hospital.
The annual dance marathon, which lasted six hours, featured a wrecking ball, letter-writing to patients at the hospital, raffles, cotton candy, and soft pretzels.
Bridgette Merriman, president of BCDM and MCAS ’20, said that the club worked hard this year trying to raise awareness for BCDM and getting as many people involved as possible. Last year, 160 people registered to participate, while only around 100 participated. This year, 151 people registered, with 166 participating.
“We really just want to get the name out on campus, so we are inviting everyone to be involved with stuff that Dance Marathon is doing,” Merriman said. “We don’t want it to just be like, ‘You have to register. You have to fundraise.’ We want everyone to be involved in something because it’s a club for all.”
There are six different committees within BCDM, including marketing, campus engagement, and membership, according to Merriman. She also said that other clubs, such as the Campus Activities Board and Residence Hall Association, along with local small businesses, were instrumental in their ability to put on the event.
“The first four years were obviously the old Plex, so we’re really excited to have the new rec center and the new space,” said Merriman. “The rec center has been great by being so accommodating and really inviting us and letting us do whatever we want with the space.”
Families from the Children’s Hospital stopped by the event throughout the day to share their stories of how the hospital has impacted their lives. Club members who have been touched by the hospital also spoke about the importance of BCDM’s mission.
According to Merriman, BCDM is pushing to do more fun and unique fundraising events in order to engage more people on campus. Merriman described one in-event campaign that raised $300.
“We’re really trying to do innovative fundraising, like fun campaigns,” Merriman said mid-way through the event. “There’s gonna be a Baby Shark campaign that nobody knows about yet, where Baby Shark will play on repeat until a certain [amount of] money is reached. A lot of it is about educating people on how to fundraise. At the end of the day, the total number doesn’t mean the most to us.”
In the previous four years of the marathon combined, BCDM has raised $125,000, Merriman said. This year, BCDM raised $33,926 total, a $200 increase from last year.
During the marathon, club members came up with many methods to keep the dancers and participants active. Caroline Barrett, vice president of outreach and CSOM ’21, spoke about the “morale dance,” an opportunity for participants to re-energize during the marathon to a particularly upbeat song.
“My favorite part is the morale dance because a lot of people stop dancing, but then once that music comes on, everyone’s involved,” said Barrett. “It kind of re-energizes everyone because six hours is a long time to be up and dancing the entire time. So you’re kind of able to get hyped back into it and keep dancing.”
Rachel Drew, director of event operations and Lynch ’20, described another strategy to keep participants engaged.
“I’m super excited about the dance meter,” Drew said. “We have it set up so that for every five minutes that three people from your color team are dancing, we get prizes put in our bag that we’re gonna end up giving to Children’s at the end of the day.”
Drew said that the two biggest challenges of managing the event are coordinating between various committees and increasing campus awareness.
“There are so many people and so many different things that need to get done, and then coordinating people to help you do those things is super hard—and also getting the word out on campus, like having people want to come to our event,” Drew said. “Every year, we want to build it a little bit more and we’re getting there, slowly but surely.”
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff