The University of New Mexico hosted the fifth annual LoboTHON Saturday. Organized and run by UNM students, this fundraiser aimed to support UNM Children’s Hospital, the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in New Mexico.
LoboTHON is a 13.1 hour dance marathon created to support children who have or have had cancer, said Jessica Marrello, LoboTHON committee member.
According to Marrello, LoboTHON is UNM’s chapter of Dance Marathon, an organization with chapters across the country in over 300 colleges and universities.
Dancers and volunteers for LoboTHON have spent the last few months raising money and awareness for the UNM Children’s Hospital. This year the goal was to raise $66,000 for the 66,000 children that UNM Children’s Hospital treats every year, said Sarah Putnam, the internal executive director of LoboTHON.
“The money raised at LoboTHON goes to the UNM Children’s Hospital and benefits numerous areas of the hospital. The money we raise also pays for equipment, uncompensated care and cancer awareness,” Marrello said.
For the duration of LoboTHON, attendees do not sit, they only stand. This demonstration acknowledges and supports the journey that hundreds of children with cancer have experienced, Putnam said.
Daniel Soria, a volunteer at LoboTHON, said 13.1 hours of dancing is nothing compared to the pain and suffering these children go through. He said LoboTHON participants remain standing for 13.1 hours to appreciate and understand the battles these children face.
Performances occured throughout the event.
Dancers could perform as individuals or in teams. Some teams included members of UNM Greek life organizations, such as Chi Omega, Kappa Sigma and Kappa Kappa Gamma. Other teams were comprised of members of other clubs on campus or came from UNM residential halls, Event Operations Director Nicholas Montano said.
“Empowering these miracle kids and their families while coming together as a community to support them is so amazing, and being at Dance Marathon is such a humbling and meaningful experience,” said Evie Pope, one of the dancers for LoboTHON.
The event included screen printing, a silent auction and gift card giveaways to raise additional funds.
This year, multiple families and children who have been treated by UNM Children’s Hospital were in attendance. One wall at the event was dedicated to these children. The wall included photos of the children and short stories about their experiences with cancer and about their dreams for the future.
One of the cancer patients who attended the event was Ethan Lombardi, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was only 18 months old. Ethan had cancer in his kidney, lungs and liver.
The UNM Children’s Hospital provided the critical care that Ethan needed and worked tirelessly to ensure Ethan and his family felt as supported as possible, according to Ethan’s mother, Esther Lombardi.
Ethan’s cancer is now in remission, she said.
“I think it’s amazing that UNM does this fundraiser. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have UNM Children’s Hospital,” Esther Lombardi said.
At the end of LoboTHON, volunteers revealed how much money was raised for UNM Children’s Hospital. This year, dancers and volunteers raised a total of $95,432.18, which was $29,432.18 more than the original goal.
“It is our mission that LoboTHON will help foster hope, health and happiness to ensure that no child fights alone,” Marrello said.
Megan Holmen is a freelance reporter for news and culture at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_holmen.