For a second consecutive year, LoboTHON is raising money for the UNM Children’s Hospital, only this time with masked crusaders.
The theme of this year’s marathon is superheroes, and the goal is $62,000.
LoboTHON is a 13.1-hour-long dance marathon organized by UNM students and faculty in order to raise money for the UNM Children’s Hospital.
Kyle Stepp, LoboTHON’s external executive director and a junior communications major, said the money is raised before and during the event through crowd-funding websites and social networking.
“We get to be the superhero for these kids, and the kids are our heroes too,” he said.
Incentives like T-shirts, sweatbands, free food and the opportunity to hang out with children from the hospital are all incentives to increase enthusiasm, he said.
The dance marathon is part of a nationwide movement of college and high school students all aiming to raise money for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, according to dancemarathon.com.
During the planning stages, Stepp said, the organizers wanted a goal and a number people could rally around. Sixty-two was chosen because there are 62,000 children being treated at UNM Children’s Hospital. Also, there are 62 children being admitted into a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital every minute, he said.
“...We fight for these kids, we are the 62. If that kid is in the hospital, we are going through it with them too,” Stepp said.
With only two days before the event, the total amount raised so far could not be disclosed, but Stepp said more money has been raised this year than last year’s total.
Kara Clem, associate director of development for the UNM Children’s Hospital, said the money from last year went into the UNM Children’s Miracle Network fund, which mostly supports the Child Life program for UNM.
The Child Life program includes an indoor and outdoor play room, media room, arts and crafts and the Beads of Courage program, she said.
“Their whole philosophy is to teach children and then also to distract them... and let them be children,” Clem said.
Not only are the children excited about the marathon, but the parents are as well, she said.
“They are thrilled and delighted. They think it is so great that students are developing a culture of philanthropy and that students are really looking into the community... and realizing our children matter and the children are the future of New Mexico,” Clem said.
The average amount raised for a first-year dance marathon is around $22,000 to $27,000. However, in the Western region of the country, most schools are typically raising $8,000 to $12,000, she said.
Last year, the goal of the marathon was $14,000. However, $25,000 was raised, which was higher than the Western regions average, she said.
“I think for the very first time, they just did a stellar job and if they can track where they are at, I think they can just keep doubling year after year. So I think they are in the top running,” Clem said.
Kyle Biederwolf, internal executive director for LoboTHON and a sophomore engineering major, said during the semester the organizers have also coordinated other fundraising events such as dodge ball, Dine to Donate and Basket Bingo.
“Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself in their situation. But one of the things we really want to push is being able to feel like a kid again,” Biederwolf said.
Lauren Marvin is a culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @LaurenMarvin.