Is It Really for the Kids?

My university is hosting a dance marathon to benefit the children’s hospital downtown. 

“What is the Dance Marathon?

                 The Dance Marathon is an annual event…that raises charitable donations for the children’s hospital.  It’s held on February 22.  It challenges students to dance for 12hrs straight from 2pm to 2am.

 What is the Dance Marathon attempting to do?

                 The Dance Marathon is about fundraising for a very noble cause, the children’s hospital in a similar fashion as Relay for Life, March of Dimes, etc.”

I saw the posters and signs around campus and was taken aback. I felt cold towards the idea and couldn’t understand why. It was almost as if I felt offended..I probably was..and still low key kind of am. Friends have asked if I signed up or plan on participating in the event this week and I snarkily responded with something along the lines of “I am the kids,” or that I just flat out didn’t like the event. I couldn’t understand why I felt that way, though. It was confusing because the event is after all benefiting a good cause..sick kids. I like helping sick kids – I am and or was a freaking sick kid! So what was wrong? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the event benefited a bottom line more than it benefited patients at the children’s hospital themselves. From the patient perspective, it makes complete sense. I believe in events that boost patient moral, not ho$pital bottom lines.

I emailed the event coordinator and offered up some suggestions for next year. Never once as a patient at a children’s hospital had I come across a fundraising event that cheered me up. People cheered me up! Although patients will benefit from the programs and innovations funded by donations raised, patients themselves are not directly impacted. A handmade gift like a blanket or a visitor, not a checkbook, made the biggest difference. I feel like the dance marathon will give students the false illusion that they are taking part in an event to benefit patients when all they will be doing is dancing and raising some money here and there. Students could be doing much, much more. If they want to really help kids at the children’s hospital, then they can start by interacting hands-on with the patients themselves. They could take on a patient to mentor..become a pen pal via email..write cards..draw pictures..actually interact with patients. Patients aren’t a reason to dance. I suppose one could argue that dancing all night could be an effort and celebration where people dance for those who can’t or no longer can..but I am choosing to not see the event that way. Healthy people without a chronic illness or personal experience with a patient have to interact patients firsthand to try and grasp the reality of a patient’s life. Sick kids are not a reason to dance. Think about the kids first, and fundraising second. I want people to understand that writing a check or dancing with friends has nothing to do with the actual kids they want to help.

I received a warm response from the event coordinator explaining that the purpose of the event was to unite the student body, and create an event where students could connect [with each other] and participate in a valuable service opportunity. So, I guess students aren’t dancing for the kids after all. They’re dancing for their own conscience.