UDance breaks fundraising record
Event surpasses goal by more than $60,000
Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 03:03
At 11 p.m. on Sunday, hundreds of students, standing statue-still, waited with bated breath for the announcement of their fundraising success after dancing for 12 straight hours. The UDance event is a five-year tradition at the university, and this year's financial goal was to have raised $200,000 by 11 p.m. that night.
Instead, they raised $264,042.
The students on the dance floor threw their arms up in celebration and cheered and applauded loudly before packing up to head home.
As the announcement was made, the executive producers of UDance, seniors Michaella Tassinari and Nithin Paul, had tears in their eyes. Tassinari said after a brief moment of shock, she was in awe of their success—as was the rest of the executive board and other event attendees.
"It was so scary right before they revealed the number," Tassinari said. "I couldn't see the number in between the two and the four so I freaked out—I was like ‘Two, what, four?!' and when I saw the six, I was blown away."
Twelve hours prior to the announcement, various student groups and representatives of the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation kicked off the marathon, which was held in the Delaware Field House.
UDance was first created to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer through the B+ Foundation. This Delaware-based organization was started by Joe McDonough and his family after his son Andrew died in 2007 from childhood acute myeloid leukemia at age 14.
McDonough, a university alumnus, said his ties to the school are significant. He met his wife on campus and still has family members who attend classes here. His relationship to the university inspired him to reach out to start an annual program at the university honoring Andrew, and children and families fighting childhood cancer around the country.
"We've got programs at various schools nationwide including the University of Arizona and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, but the connections to UD run very deep, and this is something very personal to me," McDonough said. "These other schools around the country could raise more money, but this is where my heart is—with the University of Delaware."
Fraternities, sororities, student groups and athletes danced, played catch and made balloon animals with their "heroes"—children fighting childhood cancer and other incurable diseases.
Joey Borowski, the hero and, at age 12, youngest member of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon is battling pediatric leukemia, and stood out from across the room in his bright yellow shirt playing ball with his older brothers, with a smile on his face so wide his cheeks hurt.
On one side of the Field House, football players senior Mark Schenauer and junior Nihja White were taking part in playtime activities with fellow teammates and the children.
The football team has not sponsored a specific hero in the past, but after attending this year's event and interacting with the kids, Schenauer and White agree sponsoring a hero would be something to consider for the future.
"It's a great cause, and it's fun," Schenauer said. "We can give them tickets to games, bring them in the locker rooms and even bring them on the field."
The women's lacrosse team jumped on stage to dance with some of the heroes. Co-captain and junior Kalyn McDonough, Andrew's cousin, said the lacrosse team has participated in UDance in past years by fundraising, but this was the first year the team members came out to show support at the event.
"I keep my cousin very close to my heart," Kalyn McDonough said. "I think the direction we're moving in as a team is to have a hero. It would be great."
Senior Mike Incontrera, a Sigma Phi Epsilon brother, said his fraternity sees Joey nearly once a month, and he looks forward to their time together.
"We bought him an Xbox for Christmas because he kept saying how badly he wanted one," Incontrera said. "We were recommended to buy something in the $30 price range, but we knew this was what he wanted, and when he opened it he literally pinched himself because he didn't believe it. It really hit home for us."
At approximately 5 p.m., Joe McDonough took the stage to give trophies to each of the heroes and to the parents of the late Pi Kappa Phi hero Noxah Palomo, who died last October, when he was 13 years old, after a 15-month battle with leukemia.
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) also appeared on stage and praised the mission of the B+ Foundation.
"The McDonough family and everyone associated with B+ have done a remarkable job with turning tragedy into a teachable moment," Coons said. "Thousands of hearts have been transformed here today."
He said he was inspired and impressed by the number of young people who, at an age that is widely misunderstood as being primarily self-serving, were so engaged in such positive actions.
"Seeing the genuine relationships between the B+ heroes and all of the young people here today, whether Greek or from dormitories all over the UD campus is to me, an incredibly encouraging sign," Coons said. "I believe this is the beginning of what will be one of the most important events the university and the Newark community will do every year."
Tassinari said plans and meetings for UDance begin almost 12 months prior to the event each year. Last April Tassinari, Paul and all 43 members of the executive board laid the ground work for this year's event. She said they have given more than 120 percent every day since then in order to make the event successful.
UDance was first held in 2007 by fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi in the Trabant Multipurpose Rooms. That year, it raised a sum of $8,000. Sigma Phi Epsilon president and junior Matt Friedman said in order to make it a more university-wide and less Greek event, the brothers and sisters took their organizations' names off the advertisements, and participation and involvement have since increased greatly.