Each year, McDance-a-Thon pushes the limits to increase funds raised for patients at the Children’s National Hospital. This year is no exception, with a goal of increasing fundraising by $20,000 over last year for a total of $60,000 by the end of the dance, which will be held from 4-11 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, at McLean High School.
Throughout the school year, members work to raise money through group fundraisers and self promotion to reach their personal fundraising goals by March. The dance provides club and community members with the opportunity to celebrate the club and promote a final push for fundraising.
“We work year-round to plan for McDance-a-Thon. The biggest aspect of the dance is fundraising for Children’s National, so all of the fundraisers that we plan throughout the year are an important lead-up to the dance,” club sponsor Bridget Donoghue said.
The preparation for the end-of-year dance is a lot more work than what some may think. The executive and head members plan the event far in advance and continue to manage the logistics of the dance up until the start of the event itself.
“We decorate, set up the food station, finalize the schedule, all of that stuff on the day of. The actual dance is from 4 to 11 p.m. It’s filled with a bunch of fundraising games, zooms from miracle kids, and a lot of dancing,” executive Bella DeMarco said.
Although the dance is a fun night for students to hang out with their friends, the club makes sure to emphasize the sentimental aspect of the dance.
“We start the dance with our opening ceremony, which helps to remind everyone that we’re dancing to raise money for the kids treated at Children’s National,” Donoghue said. “During our opening ceremony, the members of the executive board give a quick speech and then we all put on hospital bracelets to remind us to stand for the full seven hours in honor of these hospitalized kids.”
COVID-19 has introduced logistical and health obstacles that the club previously did not face. In 2020, the dance took place virtually and in 2021 the dance was half in-person and half online. This year is the first year since 2019 in which the dance is fully in-person.
“One obstacle that we have faced is the underclassmen not knowing as much about the club as others,” advertising head Sasha Zeltser said. “It makes it more difficult for them to learn about raising money and the process of the dance.”
Although the children from the hospital will not be in attendance, there will be a requirement to wear masks at the dance as the club will be representing the Children’s National Hospital.
“[Required masks are needed as] we are representing the hospital and neighboring organizations through this dance, and a lot of the money that has been donated will be going to COVID-19 relief,” DeMarco said. “Additionally, UMD’s Terp Thon dance marathon, which will be held in a couple weeks, is also having a mask requirement, and they are our mentors so we follow their advice.”
Head members do not think the mask requirement will affect the overall attendance of the dance as it is such a small component of the enjoyable event.
“Honestly, we are all just so excited to be able to do the dance in-person and to have the whole school participating,” DeMarco said.
Members and heads are encouraged by the return to an in-person dance and believe that their ambitious goals will allow for all students to participate in the program.
“I really feel like this is our comeback dance, and an opportunity for all the grade levels that have not been able to have a dance to be a part of McDance-a-Thon,” DeMarco said.