April 7th, 2014

Saturday Night Fever at MadiTHON

Instead of closing at 10pm on Saturday, March 29th, the party was just getting started in UREC’s main gym, as over 700 students literally danced the night away for JMU’s first ever MadiTHON.

MadiTHON was an all night dance party organized by Phi Mu and Delta Upsilon in order to raise money and awareness for the UVA chapter of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  With similar dance parties becoming a popular means of fundraising, Phi Mu was eager to bring this exciting event to JMU.

“We knew from the start that we wanted to work with the UVA Children’s Hospital,” said Phi Mu philanthropy chair, Brigid Dass.  “And once we learned of other schools’ successes with all night dance parties, we knew for sure that this was what we wanted to do.”

In attendance at the event was the Children’s Miracle Network Program Coordinator, Ryan Lightner, who acted as a liaison between the two schools during the event’s planning process.

“I have always seen JMU as having an extremely passionate and enthusiastic student body,” said Lightner.  “Ever since I was approached about this event, I have been very excited to help make it a reality.”

The students of Phi Mu and Delta Upsilon worked tirelessly to ensure the event’s success in the few short months leading to MadiTHON.  They used bake sales, letter writing campaigns and social media to raise funds and awareness around campus.  An early registration promotion guaranteed a free MadiTHON t-shirt for everyone who paid the $10 fee before spring break.

Through these outreach efforts, MadiTHON was able to include a wide range of JMU students and organizations.  “We really wanted this to be an event that could involve the entire JMU campus,” stated the Morale Chair of MadiTHON, Brooke Brylawski.  “We wanted to make it clear that it was not just for those involved with Greek life.”

Party Cartel provided the stage, lights, and 12 straight hours of loud, upbeat music to help fuel the dancing throughout the long night.  Another exciting contribution came from a performance by the Madison Dance group.

MadiTHON also managed to gain a great amount of outside support from various Harrisonburg businesses as well.  Campus Cookies and Jimmy Johns were proud sponsors of the event, supplying the hungry dancers with complimentary food.  Aspen Heights also supported the MadiTHON cause with a generous donation (and their signature neon green hats).

Looking around the UREC main gym, the tone of the night was perfectly reflected in both the attitude of the students and the decor done by Phi Mu and Delta Upsilon.  Although it was a night of fun and solidarity, there was no doubt who the event was really for.  A large portion of the gym wall was the “miracle kid wall,” with pictures and bios of children currently fighting various illnesses with the help of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.  This was really the message we wanted to make clear by having this event be a dance party”—said Brigid—“dancing for those who can’t.”

As the evening began to pick up, students (both Greek and non-Greek), began to steadily file in the door.  Much to the elation of the crowd, even Duke Dog himself made an appearance!

But despite the celebrity status of Duke Dog, even he could not overshadow the keynote speaker for the evening, head of pediatrics at the UVA Children’s Hospital, James Nataro. 

Speaking with a genuine sense of astonishment in his voice, Nataro applauded the JMU students on their “unparalleled energy and enthusiasm” in putting on such an event.  As the brief keynote address came to a close, Nataro mentioned that his son was currently looking at colleges in the area.  “After tonight,” he stated, “I would be proud to see him as a Duke.”

By the end of the night, MadiTHON had attracted over 750 students and raised $63,000 for the UVA Children’s Hospital, making it a tremendous success.

Interested in becoming involved in similar events through Greek life? Visit their site at http://info.jmu.edu/fsl/!

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