About 2,400 UConn students spent 18 hours dancing for the university's HuskyTHON, raising nearly $560,105 for Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
HuskyTHON was founded in 1999 as a year-long fundraiser. According to the HuskyTHON website, the initiative started off small and is now the largest student-run philanthropic effort in the state of Connecticut. In the past 16 years, HuskyTHON participants have raised $1.7 million for the medical center. The goal this year alone was to raise $500,000 and the students surpassed that amount.
“They treat everything from a broken bone to stage four leukemia, so without the money we raise they really can do the things that are changing kids’ lives," Maddie Love, of the HuskyTHON committee, said of CCMC.
Students got their groove on starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday and won't get off their feet until noon on Sunday. Coffee and sugary treats are provided to keep participants awake, but the high energy in the room has also been motivating everyone to keep going.
Every hour, students watch a patients' stories told in videos. That's the only time they're allowed to stop dancing in the marathon, though they stay on their feet.
Pediatric patients of the hospital were there to meet some of the participants and play games.
One of the kids was 7-year-old Charlotte Wesoloski, who spent the first year of her life in the hospital after doctors discovered a tumor near her ribs when she was just 21 days old.
"We received world class life-saving care close to home for us," Tara Wesoloski, Charlotte's mother said. "I think that the money they raise there helps other kids receive that same type of care."
Even though Charlotte is cancer-free now, her family makes the HuskyTHON an annual tradition. She said her favorite part is "dancing on stage."
UConn freshman Chelsea DeTuccio, another former CCMC patient,said that she has come full circle after spending most of her high school years in and out of the medical center.
“I’ve seen firsthand how much people can benefit from this kind of event," DeTuccio said. "So, it’s really an honor to be a part of it this year.”
She said that she plans on doing HuskyTHON every year.
The event has inflatables, an obstacle course and laser tag. The kids also will take to the stage to thank the dancers and share their stories.
Throughout the year different events are held to make money and raise awareness for the medical center. HuskTHON events from this past year included a ZombieTHON, ZumbaTHON, and Miracle Walk.
More information is available at www.huskython.uconn.edu.