After watching both her parents fight cancer, special education junior Megan Jenkins refused to take the reality of cancer sitting down.
Instead, to help raise money for children with cancer and their families, she chose to stand up to the disease as part of the MSU Dance Marathon. The event was hosted by the MSU Dance Marathon team and was held from noon until midnight Saturday at IM Sports-Circle.
“My parents may have lived through cancer, but it just breaks my heart to see kids that are so young and innocent who haven’t experienced anything struggling at such a young age,” she said.
The event required volunteer participants to remain standing the entire 12 hours to symbolize the strength and perseverance of children fighting cancer. Throughout the day, music was kept playing, and volunteers were given the opportunity to participate in games and learn dances from team leaders.
“Staying on your feet represents the struggles these kids go through every day,” said Jenkins, who is treasurer of the marathon’s planning committee. “They’re balancing getting healthy with going to school and spending time with family, and it’s a struggle for them. The least we can do is stay on our feet.”
The fundraiser also featured live entertainment, including performances by the MSU Breakdance Club and testimony from a family who has benefitted from past dance marathons.
In preparation for the event, this year’s 150 dancers each were required to raise at least $100 for the MSU Children’s Health Initiative, an organization geared toward improving specialized health care for children in the Lansing area. Participants raised about $1,500 this year to help MSU Children’s Health Initiative build a children’s health clinic in Mid-Michigan.
Physiology junior Jacob MacLean said the opportunity to dance for an entire day and benefit children’s lives makes the marathon a win-win situation.
“I decided it would be something cool to help out all the kids, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to dance and play games for 12 hours,” he said. “These kids have the courage and strength to be normal when they’ve had some not-so-normal life circumstances, and it’s really cool to be supportive.”
Although she is happy the team managed to collect more than $1,000 through the fundraiser, nursing junior Kara Loush, who was the director of the event, said she eventually would like the marathon to attract the same following seen at other universities, such as Penn State and the University of Michigan, which raise millions of dollars annually at their own dance marathons.
“This is only MSU’s fifth year doing (the dance marathon),” she said. “We’re still building it up and making people aware of it. A lot of people think, ‘I can’t do that, I’m not a dancer,’ but neither are we. It’s all for charity.”