As Ithaca College students from across the college gathered at Towers Marketplace on April 10, BomberTHON began its third annual dance marathon. Dancers, singers, student-athletes and others joined in the fundraiser, spending a relaxed afternoon dancing and playing games.
BomberTHON is a student organization which hosts the dance marathon every year to raise money for children with cancer. Proceeds will go to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, a Miracle Network Hospital in Syracuse, New York. He is part of the Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a nationwide movement in which students raise money for local children’s hospitals. After hosting the event in line last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic he was able to return has a in–nobody gathering for the first time since 2019. The event lasted five hours in total, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is the third year of the BomberTHON Dance Marathon, the first being detained in 2019, but this is the second time the event has taken place in person.
The fundraiser included participation from 19 Bombers track teams and six other campus organizations, including the BomberTHON Board of Directors. This year’s event included many performances from–campus bands including Ithacapella, Unbound, Defy Dance Company, Pulse Hip Hop, and Premium Blend. There was also a raffle, “Pie the EBoard”, Disney Karaoke, and appearances by patients from Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.
BomberTHON raised $34,221.92 last year and entered this fundraising period with a goal of $30,000. For the third consecutive year of the event, the organization exceeded its fundraising objective by announcing at the end of the dance marathon that $31,220.22 had been raised.
During the event, attendees had the opportunity to dance and play games like cornhole and Jenga. It was a rather relaxed environment, where event attendees came together for a fun afternoon in support of an important cause.
Maddy Blomkvist, president of BomberTHON, said a lot preparation goes into the planning of the BomberTHON dance marathon event. This included getting athletes and clubs involved and keeping them involved throughout the year.
“That’s really something we wanted to focus on this year, involving athletics this year because they’re so important on campus,” Blomkvist said. “The recruiting that takes place with that, the actual planning of the event logistically, staying in touch with people throughout the year to keep them engaged and to keep fundraising. … It takes a village. But I’m so grateful to have the team that I have, they’re absolutely amazing and they blew my mind.
Blomkvist also said it was very important for the organization to raise funds for this cause.
“It’s such an amazing cause,” Blomkvist said. “Knowing that the money we raise goes directly to giving children the life-changing pediatric care they can’t get in their hometown means so much.”
In order to reach and exceed the goal of $30,000 set for the year, the buy-ins athletes participating in fundraising have been necessary. The Dance Marathon event couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as last week was also NCAA Division III week. The week celebrated athletes on South Hill and included a “Spare Change Drive” and dodgeball tournament, among other activities. The week ended with the BomberTHON dance marathon. The event was originally scheduled for February 26, but was postponed to April 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior Caitlin McGrinder, Vice President of BomberTHON, is also a member of the college golf team. McGrinder said she thought the college did a great job showing appreciation for its athletes during the week.
“Ithaca College SAAC, which is the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, is really good at pushing it forward and advocating [Division III] athletes, and just representing who we are, how we are students first,” McGrinder said. “Just a kind of representation because [Division III] is a smaller sports system, so just to show we’re still here.
McGrinder also said that Getting athletes to fundraise for BomberTHON this year was easier than in previous years, and she credited SAAC for helping the BomberTHON Board achieve that goal.
“This year it was much better, it had been a bit more difficult in the past, just because of the lack of knowledge of what [BomberTHON] done and what we do,” McGrinder said. “This year we have partnered with athletics, especially Ithaca College SAAC, they have been really great in helping us get the teams involved.”
One athlete who helped raise money for BomberTHON is first-year women’s tennis member Ellie Chelnick. Chelnick said raising money for children with cancer through BomberTHON is important to her.
“It’s really cool to have the opportunity to, you know, be part of such a great cause,” Chelnick said. “It feels good, it feels good in the heart, to know that you are doing something that is going to benefit others.”
Chelnick set and surpassed her $500 goal, raising $554 during the fundraiser, which was the eighth highest among individual fundraisers. The fundraising process began in July 2021 and culminated in the dance marathon. The goals of each athlete could be seen on the website. Many athletes also attended the marathon dance event to support the cause and celebrate all the hard work they put in during the fundraising period.
Several teams also collaborated to raise funds for the event. The college women’s lacrosse team raised the most money of all sports teams, raising a total of $3,712. The gymnastics team raised the second highest fundraising, raising a total of $1,764, while the men’s basketball team followed with a total of $1,351.90.
“It’s a great event. I think it’s really important that we bring a lot of different people from the Ithaca community to contribute and come to this event,” said Owen Johnstone, Senior Men’s Soccer Player. “As an athlete, it’s nice, we can bring our whole team, do outreach. We have a voice on campus, so it’s good to spread that and bring everyone here.
Senior Alyssa Spady, a women’s basketball player, said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in an event that allowed college sports teams to make an impact.
“I think it’s a good cause,” Spady said. “I’ve been part of THON in the past, so to be able to do it at the [Ithaca College] level, and being involved in athletics too is pretty cool.
Writer Tobiah Zboray also contributed reporting for this story.