The SFU Dance Marathon is a student-led fundraising initiative that brings students together to raise money for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospital, BC Children’s Hospital. This is done through collecting donations from friends and family, year-long fundraising events, and finally through their pillar fundraising marathon, an exciting dance celebration with live music, food, guest speakers, entertainment, and more! As the very first dance marathon to be held at a Canadian university in 2014, SFUDM is bringing the event back for a 2nd year, aiming to raise at least $25 000 for the 2014-2015 year during their 12 hour dance marathon. With the event fast approaching on January 24, 2015, we interviewed the co-directors of SFUDM ‘14-15, Jordan and Sandali, to learn more about the movement and what to expect during the dance marathon!
To kick off the interview, could you both firstly tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Jordan and I'm one of the co-directors for SFUDM 2015. Last year I was in charge of Marketing & Promotions and I'm really excited to be taking on a larger role in the team this year. Right now, I'm just about to complete my studies at SFU, majoring in Health Sciences and minoring in Counselling and Human Development. As for the future, I'll be working full-time at a research centre in 2015 while pursuing medical school. Fun fact: I was born in a really small town in Nova Scotia where they make Lay's potato chips!
I'm Sandali and I'm co-directing Dance Marathon with Jordan this year. I was in charge of Sponsorship last year when our organizing team consisted of only 8 members. This year, I am super stoked to work with such a large (38 people!) and diverse group of organizing members! A little bit about me: I am currently a third year Health Science Major and French Minor student here at SFU. Like Jordan, I plan on going on to med school after my undergrad (yay! MORE school...) to become a pediatrician. Fun fact: I've never broken a bone or gotten a cavity in my life so far.
What motivated you both to take part in SFUDM, the first-ever Dance Marathon to be held at a Canadian university?
Last year, we were contacted by the Children's Miracle Network Canada head office in Ontario asking if we'd be interested in hosting the first ever Dance Marathon at a Canadian university. The reason was that we're both also part of a group on campus called Phi Delta Epsilon, a co-ed medical fraternity, whose international philanthropic partner is Children's Miracle Network. Dance Marathon has been an incredibly successful movement in the US, with over 200 000 students at 300 schools participating since 1991, but it hadn't caught on in Canada just yet.
Besides the fact that our team would lead the way in bringing this really fun and charitable event to Canada for the first time, as aspiring physicians, it was really in-line with what we hope to pursue in our future careers. It's very important for both of us (and the rest of our amazing team) to give back to the community, and we saw this as something we could do to help children across BC before we step foot into medical school. Also, we thought that SFU could use more events like this to help bring students together for an important cause!
Could you describe to us briefly how the event went last year?
The event last year was a huge success, especially considering the short amount of time we spent planning it. It took quite a while for us to sort out the details with Children's Miracle Network, so we didn't really get the chance to start planning until December, and the event was held on March 1 - which meant only two and a half months of planning! Despite this, we managed to exceed our goal of $10 000 for BC Children's Hospital by raising $10 977.37, with over 150 participants at the six hour event. The response we got was very positive, and we were even featured twice on Global News including a live cheque presentation at the Miracle Weekend telethon. Some of the highlights of the event last year included: our "Morale Dance" - a choreographed routine that we taught all our participants throughout the event (which included a mash-up of songs by various artists including Pharrell, Miley Cyrus, and Michael Jackson), our “Rave Hour” featuring glow-in-the-dark sticks and strobe lights, and some incredibly high-energy Zumba and Bollywood Dance lessons that everyone loved! We also had several patient-families from BC Children's Hospital come on stage to share their inspirational stories of courage and overcoming obstacles. It was really great to see our participants interacting with these kids and having the chance to meet some of the families whom the event was benefiting in-person.
The best moment for us, though, was the grand reveal of the amount raised at the end of the event. Several weeks prior, the Children's Miracle Network office took down our fundraising total from our website, so we had no idea if we were even close to reaching our fundraising goal. Seeing the numbers at the end of the event was the perfect ending to an incredible day! You can watch a video of our "Big Reveal" on YouTube.
What is the best part about being involved with SFU DM?
By far, the best part is being able to provide benefit to families in need here in B.C. A question we sometimes get is, "Why does BC Children's Hospital need more money? Don't they already receive money from the government?" It's true that governments do provide funding to hospitals, but due to recent budget cuts, the funding provided is only enough for the bare essential services. For the exceptional care that children in our communities deserve to have - like highly specialized equipment, programs and activities, or even something as simple as an extra bed in their hospital room so their parents can stay with them during treatment - it's up to people like us to be able to help provide this. It's also really great to be able to put SFU in the spotlight as the first university Dance Marathon in Canada and to watch the program grow in such a short amount of time. For example, the University of Alberta and McMaster University are both hosting their own Dance Marathons in the upcoming year. It's great to see Dance Marathon finally taking off in Canada and we are excited to see what the future has in store.
What are some new things we can look forward to for the upcoming SFU DM happening on Jan. 24, 2015?
We are stepping up the event in every single way imaginable. First of all, the event is going to be twice as long this year. That's twelve hours of no sitting - which may be a challenge, but the purpose of this is to show support for sick children in our province who never get the chance to catch a break from the challenging illnesses that they are faced with. We're also increasing our goal from $10 000 to $25 000 and are hoping to have double the number of participants (300) from last year. With 271 students currently registered, we're well on our way to reaching that goal!
In terms of the actual event, we only had one awesome DJ last year compared to this year, where we’ll have over six performers (including past SFSS Kickoff and Sendoff performers FKYA and LUVLYF) who will be rotating through a variety of styles to suit all kinds of musical tastes. We also are partnering with some incredibly generous companies and organizations, such as The Beat 94.5 who will be at the event with their Street Squad, and Active Body who are providing participants with free t-shirts . We're also very excited to announce that the local restaurant, Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria, has agreed to sponsor lunch and dinner for all of our participants! And of course, the event will be jam-packed with fun activities while featuring amazing young guests from BC Children's Hospital just like last year. January 24 is going to be an amazing day, and we hope that you can all join us!