Thunder Dance participants are preparing to boogie for a cause

On April 1, 2017, the Cam Henderson Center will be flooded with students participating in the third annual Thunder Dance Marathon.

Thunder Dance Marathon was created with children in mind. All proceeds raised will benefit cancer research for children affected by chronic medical conditions and the betterment of the Hoop’s Family Children’s Hospital.

Hoop’s Family Children’s Hospital is located on the campus of Cabell-Huntington Hospital in Huntington. Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and their students and doctors support Hoop’s in their effort to support families and provide for an ongoing pediatric medical need.

The upcoming dance marathon will take place over 14 hours on April 1, and will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. These 14 hours will include meals, themed dance hours, games, an award ceremony, but most importantly no sitting.

Megan Chafin is a freshman and will be participating in her first Thunder Dance Marathon, but that did not stop her from getting involved early. Chafin is currently serving on the Thunder Dance Marathon Committee as secretary.

Killian Ellis is a senior and will be participating in his third marathon, but it is his first time as a member on the committee. He is currently serving as Greek Liaison Chair.

“My job is to get as many Greek organizations to participate as possible,” Ellis said.

The Thunder Dance Committee is a student-led organization and many of these students join for the same reason — the children.

“I joined Dance Thunder for the kids. I wanted to support the children with chronic illnesses because nothing is more heartbreaking,” Chafin said.

“I joined because I thought I could help. I have a passion for these kids and the event. I even spoke of it in my platform for Mr. Marshall,” Ellis added.

Thunder Dance Marathon is open to all students and student organizations on campus.

“We’re having a hard time getting other campus groups to create teams, because people think it’s Greek life only, but it is for all students,” Chafin said. “We’ve emailed all the presidents of organizations on campus and are hoping for a response, but there has been nothing yet.”

Although student organizations are raising funds separately, they will get the opportunity to mingle with other organizations during the dance marathon period. Each dancer will be separated into a different morale group, which includes dancers from all different organizations. These morale groups are the people dancers participate with throughout the event for different activities, including games, races, karaoke, dancing and much more.

“Some obstacles are participation,” Ellis said. “The more people we have, the better. When someone hears 14-hour dance marathon, it does not sound too appealing. If they would just experience it though, I know they would fall in love with the event.”

People may register for the event by visiting the Thunder Dance Marathon website. Team registration closes on January 31, while dancer registration will open on February 1. The dancer fee is $150 dollars each. Dancer fees are all due by mid-March and include meals, a t-shirt and other goodies.

Dancer fees are up to each dancer or their organization to cover, but donations can be made in their name. Also, Thunder Dance Marathon is looking for sponsors.

“Right now we do not have many sponsors, and we are in need of getting them soon,” Chafin said.

The organization has sponsorship club levels. Each provides donors and sponsors with different benefits. There are six categories that allow companies to donate anywhere from $250 dollars to $15,000 plus. If a corporate sponsorship is too much, people are still able to donate as much as they want on the ‘donate’ tab online.

Thunder Dance Marathon is an event that takes months of planning. This semester has been the early stages planning.

“Planning has consisted of really just raising awareness and raising money for the event,” Ellis said.

“We want this to be bigger and better than ever, so we are asking everyone to participate.”

Planning has been about awareness and fundraising.

“So far we have had Thunder Week to inform students that Thunder will be happening again this school year, and we have been having some fundraisers at restaurants around the Huntington area,” Chafin said.

The event is creeping up and the Thunder Dance Marathon committee is excited.

“I’m most excited for the actual dance marathon because it will be my first one ever,” Chafin said.

Although Ellis has done it the past two years, he said, “I am also most excited to participate in the event and to see how much money we can raise for these kids.”

A theme that is incorporated throughout the event is “FTK,” or For The Kids. Actual patients are present at the beginning and end of the day and provide the dancers with a look into their lives.

“Thunder Dance Marathon to me means sacrificing 14 hours of my time and standing for the whole thing to help a child possibly live,” Ellis said. “It is hard to do, but seeing those kids makes it so much easier. It is a great experience to be a part of.”

Alexis Leach can be contacted at [email protected].