Dancing For development

Syracuse University students danced the night away to help raise funds for Habitat for Humanity.

In the brightly-lit Sky Barn on South Campus, two girls toss around a balloon to each other, anticipating the arrival of students. A disc jockey sets up his equipment at the front of the barn, facing the dance floor. Balloons and streamers line the sides of the walls, and snacks donated by Pepsi are spread out on a table in the back. Everything needed for the dance is set, including several gallons of ice water, because this isn’t a typical dance — it’s a 12-hour dance marathon.

This past Friday, VPA’s Bandier program teamed up with Habitat for Humanity and hosted a dance-a-thon, with all proceeds going toward a $60,000 goal for building a house. various companies and patrons sponsored the participants to dance from 8 p.m to 8 a.m, and whichever participants were able to raise the most money would be awarded a two-day trip to Santa Monaco, Calif.

Syracuse Habitat for HumanityThe mastermind behind the event was junior Jenna Loadman who spent about a year planning the dance. A member of Bandier, a music and entertainment industry program, she was approached by program director David Rezak  and  Habitat for Humanity advisor Larry Elin about creating the event last April.

Loadman worked diligently to organize the event. She secured a venue, settled on a date, and contacted a DJ from a local radio station. She sent out several emails to sponsors promoting Habitat and its cause, and several sponsors did indeed donate.

Then, after all her work and a few setbacks, she leaned against a table ten minutes before the dance waiting for people to arrive.

“It’s so surreal to be here right now,” Loadman said, looking around the room. “I’m really excited.”

Habitat for Humanity already has $20,000 raised towards their $60,000 goal. To raise the rest of the money, however, they plan to host the dance marathon again for the next few years until their goal is reached. Freshman Margaret Tomlin, who helped market the event through various social network outlets, hopes that the dance-a-thon will become more popular as each year goes by.

“Right now it [the dance marathon] is kind of like the pilot episode of a season.” Tomlin said. “The dance tonight is more for making people aware; hopefully in the years after we’ll have money and do something with it.”

Despite how long it takes to raise the rest of the money though, those who helped out feel good about what they’re doing. “In the long run it gives students the opportunity to leave something upon graduating,” Tomlin says.

The results of the dance will not be revealed until Feb. 18.  Participants still have the rest of this week to raise money towards not just a free trip, but toward building a house for a family in need.

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