The third annual Dance Marathon Dodgeball and 3-on-3 Basketball Tournaments will be held in HPER on Sunday to aid East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

The Dance Marathon philanthropy first began at Penn State University in 1973. Now, more than 100 colleges and universities have a dance marathon event on their campuses. Dance Marathon began at UT in 1995. Throughout the year, students use various fundraisers to raise money and Dance Marathon culminates with a large event during the spring semester. At this annual event, many UT students give 14 hours of their time to raise money for children.

 “Each year, students work to raise money through various fundraisers in order to help support the hematology and oncology unit of the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital,” Frances Ferree, junior in psychology and vice president of community outreach for Dance Marathon, said. “The hospital is known for not turning away any patient under the age of 21, regardless of their ability to pay. Thus far, over $900,000 dollars has been raised and donated to the hospital. This year we have high hopes to break the million-dollar mark.”

Because of the amount of money raised, Dance Marathon is the largest event that benefits East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

'This past year, more than 400 students participated in the February event and raised more than $37,000,” Katie Mittura, senior in biomedical engineering and vice president of dancer relations for Dance Marathon, said.  

 In 2008, Dance Marathon’s executive committee added a dodgeball and basketball tournament to the list of Dance Marathon activities.

“We picked dodgeball, because who doesn’t like to hit the opponent with dodgeballs?” Ferree said. “It brings out the competitive spirit in a fun way.”

Besides the entertainment aspect, the events were also added to increase the event’s presence.

 “Basketball was added in to add to the event to make it bigger, in hopes of raising money,” Mittura said.

Ferree said each fundraiser serves as a way for people to meet their Dance Marathon goals.

“As a dancer, you are also asked to raise money in your name to be donated to the hospital,” she said. “We ask each dancer to be responsible for a $175 fundraising goal, as well as a $25 registration fee, which buys you two T-shirts, food and tons of entertainment during those 14 hours. If you are willing to participate in our multiple fundraisers, then it is extremely easy to reach your goal.”

Not only does the committee have programs for UT students, it also reaches out to the community to provide various ways for others to get involved.

“We try to reach out to the community by asking for sponsorships and catering donations from local businesses,” Ferree said. “We also try by making it available for people within the community to participate in our fundraising efforts, such as our 5k on Jan. 29 and the Jay Storm Band Party we hosted at Tin Roof last October.”

For students who would like to learn more about the events leading up to Dance Marathon, go to activities.utk.edu/dance-marathon.