Friday, Aug 23, 2019

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BobcaThon dance marathon raises nearly $75,000 for area Ronald McDonald House

More than 300 student dancers ran cheering through the green-and-white balloon arches in Baker Theater and took their places on the dance floor. The dancers, decked out in their team colors, waved their handmade signs, practiced their team chant and prepared to spend the next 12 hours on Saturday dancing “for the kids.”


Their dance moves and efforts resulted in raising nearly $75,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.  

BobcaThon, the year-long fundraiser culminated in a 12-hour dance marathon that brought hundreds of students and community members together in support of the local charity. The Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a home-away-from-home, meals and other assistance to families with seriously ill children as they receive care at nearby hospitals.

The third annual event kicked off at noon Saturday with opening remarks from Kendra Lutes, president of BobcaThon, and Carly Damman, a representative from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones led the countdown to signal the start of the marathon, but not before donating $25 to the green team for their “small but mighty” team chant. 

“I’m so proud of each and every one of you,” Hall-Jones said. “And I’m so proud of the BobcaThon team for putting together this amazing event.”


Every hour, families who received support from the Ronald McDonald House Charities addressed the crowd of dancers. Mackenzie Vaughn, whose parents are both OHIO alums, spoke about how the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio supported her and her family while she received treatment for complex regional pain syndrome when she was 11 years old. “Without the Ronald McDonald House, I probably would not be where I am today,” Vaughn said. “So I thank you all for raising money to help kids who are in the same position that I was.”  


Throughout the event, participants stayed active through Zumba and yoga classes, and, of course, lots of dancing. The student dancers spent part of each hour learning a line dance that they performed at the end of the event.


The morale captains from each team rallied together to motivate participants and help teach the final line dance. Maura Anderson, sophomore and purple team morale captain, said she fell in love with the event and charity during last year’s BobcaThon when she participated as a dancer. She and other members of the BobcaThon leadership team visited the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio earlier this year. Anderson said she left with a new perspective on the purpose of the event. “It really is for the kids,” she said. “Yes, my feet hurt and I’m tired and thirsty and sweaty, but it’s all for them.”


When they weren’t dancing or taking team photos at the photo booth, participants competed against rival color teams in penny wars. During the closing ceremony, Lutes announced that the penny wars competition raised an additional $614 toward the final fundraising total.


One of this year’s crowd-favorite events was the costume contest. Each team had 10 minutes to create outfits out of a hula hoop, streamers, duct tape and other household items before sending two team members down the red runway. The orange team took first place in the costume contest, and team member Kylie Reed said it was their makeshift dress and hula hoop suspenders that clinched the win.


Student dancers lip-synced their hearts out on the Baker Ballroom stage to win the first-annual BobcaThon lip sync battle. From off-the-cuff routines to renditions of “Bye Bye Bye” by *NSYNC, four participants from each team entertained the crowd with their dance moves. The purple team and their performance of “Ain’t No Other Man” stole the show and the contest.


After 12 hours of non-stop dancing and hearing personal accounts from families who’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio, the BobcaThon staff held up signs that revealed the final fundraised total: $74,865. The floor and stage shook as the crowd celebrated and got into place for the final line dance.

As they performed the line dance for the last time, junior and co-director of morale Abby Fajack couldn’t help but let a few tears fall as she looked out at the crowd.

“I’m so in awe of the heart that everyone has put into this cause,” Fajack said. “Being a part of this organization and event has changed me inside and out, and I’m so unbelievably happy.”