Posted on

My take: Dancing for kids with cancer

February 18/25, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 19

By Steven Feldman

 

So, I was talking to my son the other day, which is a miraculous feat in and of itself. It’s not that he isn’t a great kid; he certainly is. But, he’s 20. For those of you who have teenagers or 20-something year-olds, you can probably relate. Life spent with face buried in phone. Selective hearing. Unable to commit to plans more than 30 seconds in advance. Always looking for the BBD (bigger, better deal).

Anyway, I made the mistake of doing the unfathomable—asking what he was doing the weekend on April 5. Yes, nearly two months in advance. A question usually met with a blank stare. Much to my surprise, he immediately parted his face from his phone, risking a case of separation anxiety, and assertively told me he was participating in a dance marathon.

Ummm, huh?

Harris is a junior at Rutgers University, and it turns out his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT), is actively involved in the Rutgers University Dance Marathon (RUDM), which is the largest, student-run philanthropic event in New Jersey. It is a weekend of no-sitting and no-sleeping. The 27-hour event brings together more than 2,000 people, including dancers and volunteers. RUDM’s mission is to provide emotional and financial support for children who are a part of Embrace Kids Foundation. RUDM participants dance to help raise funds and awareness that goes toward Embrace Kids Foundation’s mission to support the non-medical needs of children with cancer, sickle cell and other serious disorders. It addresses the spiritual, emotional and financial needs of patient families in the New York City/New Jersey metropolitan area. More than 3,200 children and families have received assistance over its 27-year history.

Students often dance as part of teams representing their student organizations in a mutual effort to raise funds. RUDM is high energy, filled with activities, games, live bands and food to engage participants. In the finale, patient families join a large dance party on the floor.

RUDM is not limited to one weekend in spring. It is a year-long effort to raise funds and awareness for children with cancer and blood disorders. Children and their families who are a part of Embrace Kids Foundation are paired with fraternities, sororities and organizations across Rutgers University. The pairing ensures children and their families have a support system at the University and feel like they are a part of the Rutgers community. The college students provide comfort, friendly faces and fun during trying times. They visit the children during treatment and engage them with fun activities. Additionally, students and families meet outside of treatment for parties, sporting events and movies. The idea is to make a family’s time through treatment much easier by being a fun escape during a difficult journey.

In 2018, RUDM raised a record-breaking $1,055,468, every penny of which went to Embrace Kids Foundation. In fact, since 1999, RUDM has raised more than $7.9 million for the foundation. The money raised has helped countless families in the tri-state area cope with the numerous challenges of pediatric cancer.

Why am I mentioning it here? Benevolence and helping those in need is a big part of the culture here at FCNews. Whether we are creating awareness for what others are doing, like Shaw’s involvement with St. Jude, volunteering our time or administrating the FCNews Fantasy Football League for a Cause—which has resulted in donations surpassing $130,000 these past few years—we know our role here is about more than flooring. And in the spirit of transparency, I couldn’t be more proud of my son for doing this. And here’s the obligatory shameless plug: Anyone wishing to support the cause can log on to Harris’ page: tinyurl.com/y35o9q3r.

Meantime, no sitting or sleeping for 27 hours? Good luck to each and every one of them. They know they are doing it for a good cause.