BuckeyeThon adapts to the times but mission remains the same
Organization has raised over $11 million for Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Update: Two BuckeyeThon Dance Marathons in 2020 raised a total of $2,228,067.16 For The Kids. BuckeyeThon raised $621,979.17 this weekend.
Holding a massive dance marathon and fundraiser requires creativity, willpower and flexibility in the best of years. In the middle of a pandemic, the task is even more difficult.
“So it has been interesting,” said Alexandria Vierling, vice president of advancement for BuckeyeThon.
“Normally, the way we recruit, we are in person. We have one week, we call it registration week. We’re on the ground. You see us everywhere, we’re on our campus, off campus, everywhere. We hunt you down to help you support BuckeyeThon in the nicest way possible,” she said. “But obviously this year everything had to be completely virtual.”
The annual BuckeyeThon Dance Marathon is the fundraising year-culminating event that traditionally brings together thousands of Buckeyes in the Ohio Union to dance and celebrate for 24 hours. The event raises funds and awareness for the Hematology/Oncology Floor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with the goal of ending pediatric cancer and blood disorders. Since its founding, BuckeyeThon has raised over $11.5 million for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
This year, due to restrictions on large public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be streamed on YouTube. Vierling, a fourth-year health science major, said in-person outreach was replaced by an email campaign, social media and flyers with QR codes to drive registration and support.
Another change: This year’s dance marathon was open to all members of the community, not just Ohio State students. As a result, approximately 3,800 team members are expected to participate. The marathon is also shorter this year, running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21.
“For the dance marathon on YouTube, we have over 22 performers who have sent us videos. It could be anything from groups of dancers from Ohio State to someone teaching Zumba to the jump rope club,” Vierling said.
In addition to the dance marathon, BuckeyeThon is hosting a Virtual Day of Play to fundraise through the power of gaming. The gaming marathon will run alongside the dance marathon as an alternative way to engage supporters.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the goal. The student-run philanthropy hopes to raise $2 million this year. It’s an ambitious number in the middle of a pandemic, but Vierling said it makes more sense to be bold in this moment.
“We’re fully aware it’s a pandemic. We know that there are a lot of things going on in the world. But for us and for what we’re experiencing right now, just because COVID happened, cancer did not stop. Blood disorders did not stop,” she said. “We believe that now, more than ever, the kids need our help and we are trying to do whatever it takes.”
Information and links to the YouTube channel and stream for the gaming marathon are available on the BuckeyeThon website.