Students at the University of Southern Mississippi are prepping their best dance moves in an effort to raise money “For the Kids.” As part of the Children’s Miracle Network, the student organization EagleTHON is raising money to benefit Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.
On Feb. 16, the student organization will host its second annual six-hour dance marathon event in the Payne Center on USM’s campus. The organization hopes to raise $25,000 this year, which would allow the children’s hospital to purchase much-needed medical equipment.
“We are doing the six-hour dance marathon because six hours is the shortest amount of time that a child with go through Blair E. Batson or any Children’s Miracle Network for treatment,” said EagleTHON Public Relations Chair Sawyer Walters.
In addition to the annual dance marathon event, the student organization works throughout the entire year to raise money.
EagleTHON Vice President Michaelah Wheat said that while the organization has existed at USM for the past two years, it is part of a nationwide movement that has taken root in college campuses across the country. Wheat explained that EagleTHON organizations have also been established at several universities throughout the state.
“What is interesting about Mississippi specifically is that we only have one Children’s Miracle Network hospital in the state, so all of the dance marathons in the state are going toward the same hospital,” Wheat said. “It’s a great opportunity for our state to come together and raise money for the same cause.”
Walters said that several other student organizations on campus have taken the opportunity to get involved with EagleTHON and make a difference; many organization even make a competition out of the fundraisers.
“Michaelah and I are both involved in Greek Life organizations on campus,” Walters said. “It becomes kind of a rivalry between our organizations to try to raise the most money.”
Additionally, Walters said that many businesses in the area are pitching in to help as well.
“EagleTHON is so unique in that it is not just another student organization,” Wheat said. “It is one that encompasses all of campus, all of the community and all of the state.”
Also, Walters added that the donations are tax deductible and encouraged other businesses to take advantage and participate.
This year, the organization has high expectations for the upcoming dance marathon. Wheat explained that she is actually hesitant to even call it a “dance marathon” because it is not typically what you might expect.
“It’s really a big celebratory event,” she said. “We have children from the Children’s Miracle Network come share their stories every hour, we have games and team competitions throughout the night, and we even have dance battles. The biggest thing is we are still doing our final fundraising pushes throughout the night.”
Currently, registration for the event is available for $12, which includes entry into the event, a t-shirt and food.