On Saturday, the seventh annual Trojan Dance Marathon took place for 12 consecutive hours at the Ronald Tutor Center Ballroom.
Trojan DM serves as a fundraising campaign for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and has raised more than $100,000 since 2008. This year’s event set a record as the Trojan DM raised more than $59,000.
The event was made possible by 14 committees that focus on different aspects of the planning such as community, performances and fundraising that serve to bring together the holistic DM experience.
“We have Miracle Children that represent the hospital, and these are kids and their families who have long relationships with CHLA depending on an illness they’ve had or an accident they’ve been in,” said Crescent Cheng, the campus coordinator for Trojan DM. “These kids have had really positive experiences with CHLA and want to advocate for the hospital. It’s also a chance for USC students to see where all the hard work goes to while hanging out with the kids they’re helping and listening to them share their stories.”
Without a single chair in the room, not even for the people registering participants, the TCC Ballroom was set up with tables to check in for wristbands and a complimentary shirt for those who had raised more than $15 prior to the event. Along the sides of the ballroom were various stations for arts and crafts.
Those who donated were given raffle tickets that could be placed in a multitude of jars offering $150 Uber giftcards, various jewelry items and a gift card to Pressed Juicery.
Even students who didn’t have the opportunity to raise money ahead of time were able to give back through the DM “jail.” They donated $5 to put someone in “jail” for one hour. The bail was set at $20.
“I think the jail idea was really clever, because I wanted to give back after meeting the Miracle Kids, while having a good time with my friends,” said Claire Witzke, a freshman majoring in linguistics. “DM made it possible to see where all the effort and money was going, making the experience of giving back enjoyable.”
Every two hours, the hosts of DM would introduce a new theme and DM members and the Miracle Children would dress accordingly. The themes included Princesses and Pirates, Candyland, Jungle, Country and Rave Power Hour. Each theme featured a different DJ.
At the end of each hour, participants were taught small, one-minute dances by the DM morale captains. The dance was a series of popular songs mashed together. By the end of 12 hours, the crowd performed an effortless 12-minute long dance routine.
“I decided to go simply as a study break, and I was shocked to see how amazing Dance Marathon is,” said Riyana Chakraborty, a freshman majoring in international relations (global business). “The people are incredibly passionate, the miracle children were all smiles and the overall experience was unforgettable.”
Cheng spoke on the extensive preparation that goes into DM.
“We start planning for the next Dance Marathon after this event is done, so it really is a yearlong process,” Cheng said. “In order to have as much of the student body as possible to come out and raise money, it takes months of organizing.”
DM special events coordinator Sarah Loh discussed how awareness alone can be helpful.
“Whether it’s a fundraiser to help raise money or just an awareness campaign, it can really help [the children and the hospital],” Loh said. “Just last week we had a photo campaign where we just had people take pictures with props or photos in front of Tommy Trojan that would raise awareness throughout campus by putting the photos on various social media.”
DM reminded students that all the effort is “FTK: For The Kids.” Every hour participants would simultaneously respond to the question posed by the morale captains, “Why are you here?” with an enthusiastic “Trojan Dance Marathon, for the kids!”