SU to host OttoTHON charity event in fall 2014

Next fall, Syracuse University will join dozens of other colleges such as Penn State, Stanford and Rutgers when it holds the first-ever OttoTHON charity event.

The OttoTHON Dance Marathon is coming to campus to raise money for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.  The 12-hour event is planned to feature music, dancing and other activities.

The event is part of Dance Marathon, a nationwide program that partners with college and high school students to hold a 12-40 hour-long event where students try to dance for as long as they can and participate in other activities to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospital in their community, according to the organization’s website. 

A team of students, headed by executive director Jillian Lynch, is organizing SU’s event.  After running a Dance Marathon event at her high school, Lynch said she spent the summer working with the local hospital to bring a Dance Marathon event to Syracuse.

Lynch, a freshman broadcast and digital journalism and political science major, said participants must raise a minimum of $50 in order to attend the event.

She said she also hopes to bring children from the hospital to the event.

The OttoTHON will feature a DJ, live entertainment, games and other activities, said Jacob Custer, the event’s director of external relations.

“It’s going to be 12 hours of fun,” said Custer, a freshman public relations major.

Lynch said that Dance Marathon events are held across the country. The first event was held in 1991 and dances are now held at more than 150 participating schools, according to the Dance Marathon website.

Meagan Solano, the event’s internal director, said she felt it would be a missed opportunity if SU did not participate.

“Other colleges have raised millions of dollars, and I just feel like Syracuse has been missing out,” Solano said.

Custer said the event is still in the early stages of planning. Solano, who is a freshman magazine journalism major, added the group is currently working on finalizing its executive board, and has been holding interest meetings to get other students involved.

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is a member of the Children’s Miracle Network, which provides funding to 170 children’s hospitals nationwide, said Lorie Riedl, retail development director for the Foundation for Upstate Medical University.

“We’re extremely excited to be partnering with our neighbors up on the SU Hill,” Riedl said. “It’s an important relationship to develop, and we certainly appreciate the enthusiasm for supporting the sick and injured children in our region.”

Riedl said the money raised will likely go toward the hospital’s Child Life Program, which helps sick children and their parents. 

The group is planning on holding a kick-off event next semester, Lynch said. She added that the kick-off would likely be a barbecue or a mini-dance marathon.

“We’re going to create awareness in the spring semester, so that in the fall, people are going to know what it is, and people are going to be ready for it, so we can get started right away,” Custer said.

The group has started negotiations with greek organizations on campus, as it hopes to get them involved with fundraising and participating in the dance, Solano said.

Custer added that participating in OttoTHON is a “win-win.”

Said Custer: “You are going to have fun at the dance marathon event, and you are going to feel good because you raised money to save children’s lives.”


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