The fundraising event For The Kids @ UTK, previously known as Dance Marathon, raised $28,659 on Friday evening at Hollingsworth Auditorium in the Ellington Plant Science Building.
The money raised will go to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital Hematology and Oncology Clinic. The proceeds will go to help families with prescriptions not covered by insurance, wigs, transportation, equipment and funeral costs.
The executive board responsible for the event is made up of 18 members. These members have been meeting once a week for the past eight months in order to organize and plan the entire event.
This year, the board made several changes to the event, most importantly, its name.
Caroline Driscoll, vice president of participant relations for the event and junior in communications, said the time had come to completely re-brand Dance Marathon as For The Kids @ UTK.
"We felt we had hit a plateau and needed to reinvent ourselves," Driscoll said. "Also, For The Kids @ UTK is a 365-day fundraising organization now, so we are hoping to increase our efforts and continue our fundraising all year long with different smaller events ultimately leading to our main event of a 12 hour celebration of the children's fight."
This year, 292 people registered for the fundraising event.
Some of the activities available to the participants included a visit from Smokey and members of the pep squad, a performance by the band The Lonely Biscuits, singing by Knoxville-native Ben Shuster and UT women's acapella group ReVOLution. There were also belly-dancers, a break dance crew, two disc jockeys, a small bounce house for the kids, a face painter, crafts for children, and, for the first time, a silent auction.
"We decided it was time for a change," Driscoll said. "Also, 'For The Kids @ UTK' puts less emphasis on 'dancing' and more emphasis on why we do what we do, for the kids.
"We think people were detracted from registering because it was called Dance Marathon and people thought it was all about dancing, but we have so many other things going on during the event."
Lacy Adorante, freshman in psychology, participated in For The Kids and was a part of the morale team.
"I heard about the event during a Chi Omega meeting and decided to get involved through morale," Adorante said. "It's very different than I thought it would be. I didn't think this many kids would be here. I'm having so much fun with the kids and my sisters.
"It doesn't feel like a philanthropy event because I'm having such a great time, but at the same time it's going to a great cause."
Members of the board inform patients and their families several weeks prior to the event. Board members sent out 500 envelopes with information about the event (date, time, directions, etc) and sent them to patients and families of the clinic. There are also clinic parties throughout the year and that allows the board members to spend time with the children when they are waiting for treatment and allows them to create relationships with them before the event.
This year, the fundraising goal was to be close to $30,000.
"We are extremely happy about (what we raised)," Driscoll said. "We have a long way to go, but it is a great first step as For The Kids @ UTK."