BomberTHON, a new Ithaca College student-run organization, is encouraging students to stand — and dance — in solidarity with children suffering from cancer in a 6-hour dance marathon.
BomberTHON is part of the greater THON network, a national organization in which over 200 colleges and universities nationwide host dance marathons to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, with the goal of raising awareness and funds for families affected by childhood cancer, according to its website. BomberTHON is projected to take place sometime in Fall 2019, but an exact date is not yet set for the event.
BomberTHON was introduced to the college by sophomores Laura Heppes and Lee Folger. Heppes said they were inspired by posts they saw about Pennsylvania State University’s THON on Instagram and wanted to contribute to the organization from their own college. After the initial inspiration, Heppes reached out to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, and organized the event with it.
The goal of BomberTHON is for participants to remain standing throughout the entire event in solidarity with the children who can’t stand up while they are in the hospital, Heppes said. Heppes compared the event to a middle school dance — one that lasts for 6 hours. The event will be complete with a DJ and other complementary activities for attendees to participate in, like face painting, photo booths, group dances and games. Heppes said there will be performances from various dance teams and a cappella groups on campus, as well as complimentary food served from local restaurants. The budget for the event has not been determined yet.
To ensure that all participants in BomberTHON are excited and moving, Folger will serve as the event’s “Chief Morale Captain.” He and other morale captains will lead chants and group dances to keep everyone at the event involved in the activities, Heppes said. Dancers who are fundraising stay on their feet through the entirety of BomberTHON, although members of the public are welcome to come and go from the event.
Those who are particularly dedicated to the cause can register with the club to be an official dancer, said sophomore Thomas Edson, director of hospital relations for BomberTHON. The fundraising for BomberTHON is done by official BomberTHON dancers, who receive a personal fundraising goal of $150 upon registering. Edson said these dancers will work to meet their goals on their own up until the actual event date by seeking donations through fundraising pages and promoting their fundraising on social media. Friends or family members of dancers can donate through these personal pages to help them reach their goal.
Heppes and Folger gathered a few of their peers to form an executive board at the end of Spring 2018 and were officially recognized as a college organization by IC Engage in October 2018. Heppes said members of the board are tasked with positions like keeping in contact with the hospital, recruiting dancers for the event, seeking donations and overall event planning and organization.
Heppes said the money raised will go directly to the hospital to assist families with a child undergoing treatment. She said the donations made will go to extra food, gas and events for the children as well as other accommodations to ensure children and their families are comfortable while seeking treatment.
“The goal is really for families to maintain normalcy while in the hospital and to help prevent the sickness from defining the family,” Heppes said.
Danielle LaTour, director of retail development for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, said the work done by student-led philanthropies ensures hospitals can continue to provide the same quality of care for patients and focus on making the hospital a positive experience for all. BomberTHON is not only a way to help others, but also a way for students to gain leadership skills, LaTour said.
“Our youth and college generations are our future leaders,” LaTour said. “They are paving the way for great things to come.”
Heppes said BomberTHON has set a goal of raising $15,000 this year. The group wants the event to continue to grow and be something students of the college will look forward to annually.
Edson said because the organization is fairly new, the members of BomberTHON are primarily focused on making their mission known across campus.
“The more people that attend and enjoy BomberTHON, the more fun we can have as a group and the more money we can raise for the kids,” Edson said.
Correction: This article previously stated that the dance marathon will be 46 hours. It has been corrected to say that it will be 6 hours.