By Carly Damman, Community Partnerships Associate
This past weekend, 180 Ohio University students gathered together in the Baker University Center ballroom on campus to dance for 12 hours straight. Students weren’t just dancing for the fun of it. They were dancing for the kids and families that spend far more than 12 hours here at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
They were dancing for the single mom who has a cancer-stricken young son in the hospital. For the parents who have to spend months apart from each other, one taking care of their ill child and the other at home working to keep up with medical expenses. Dancing for the new parents gripped by fear because their twin girls were born early and are struggling to breathe.
In the midst of difficult times, the Ronald McDonald House is there as an escape for these families, providing them with a free place to stay, a hot shower, a comfortable bed and a home-cooked meal prepared by the loving hands of our volunteers.
In the midst of the stress and busyness of college life, the students of BobcaThon Dance Marathon were hard at work fundraising, hosting on-campus events and preparing for February 13th, the day they would stand on their feet for RMHC families.
During the 12th hour of Saturday’s dance marathon, the executive team stood on stage, exhausted yet excited, to announce the final fundraising total: $40,473.01 for RMHC families. 404 additional nights of rest for RMHC families! Needless to say, the 2nd Annual BobcaThon Dance Marathon was hugely successful but I think there’s a bigger story to tell here.
Big kids helping little kids. Big kids DO have the power to change the world. Big kids DO care about giving back. Big kids ARE driven, goal oriented, smart and passionate. We live in a world where tragedy, cruelty, hate, stereotypes and pressure to perform cloud our view of “big kids”. Every day, I have the privilege of experiencing how big kids are helping little kids. College students helping the kids staying at RMHC of Central Ohio. A generation helping a future generation.
BobcaThon isn’t just a dance marathon that raises money for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio. It’s a display of big kids helping little kids. It makes me excited for the future, knowing that a group of empowered, driven and passionate big kids can change the lives of all the little kids who know nothing different than to keep fighting.
These big kids WILL change the world!
By Carly Damman
February 14th, 2015 marked a special day for both Ohio University students and the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. On that day, over 130 students came together to dance for 12 hours straight while raising a total of $18,173 dollars for Ronald McDonald House families. February 14th marked the first ever dance marathon at Ohio University and the first ever dance marathon to raise support for RMHC of Central Ohio.
As an eager and ambitious college senior, I decided to help start BobcaThon at Ohio University. Little did I know it would land me a big girl job one day! BobcaThon became a reality due to hard work, passionate students and a desire to help the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. What a bittersweet moment for me when February 14th finally came around and the idea of a dance marathon became reality! Transitioning from being a student who helped plan the event to a full-time staff member at the Ronald McDonald House was a bit of a challenge for me at first. However, as soon as I stepped foot in the Student Center at Ohio University and saw the event come to life, the challenge was over and the celebration could begin! The students did such an incredible job honoring the families and embracing the atmosphere of a true dance marathon.
Reflecting on my tough transition from student to full-time staff member, I am repeatedly reminded of the transition families staying with us have to make. Can you imagine leaving your home, your friends, your family and your job to spend weeks, even months, at a hospital? It’s surely not an easy transition. It’s probably one of the hardest transitions a family ever has to make. My transition pales in comparison! I am so honored and so humbled to work for an organization that strives to serve families of seriously-ill children in their deepest time of need each and every day. I am beyond thrilled to continue working alongside BobcaThon students to make the dance marathon more successful each year.
For me, each hour of the 12 hour dance marathon symbolized an hour of anticipation for an RMHC family. An hour of waiting during a child’s surgery, an hour of celebration after a cure is found, an hour of praying for positive test results or an hour spent anxiously awaiting next steps on an already long journey. I admire the stamina of each BobcaThon dancer to stand on their feet for 12 hours straight but that’s nothing compared to the strength of our Ronald McDonald House families.
Remember to always take time to dance for the amazing families that stay at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House!
By Carly Damman
After visiting various corporate advertising and public relations agencies in large cities such as New York and Chicago, I found myself in the office of a marketing employee at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio inquiring about a post-grad summer internship. Weeks later, I found myself completely in love with this organization and fighting to make BobcaThon a reality on Ohio University’s campus, where I attended college at the time.
Now, months later, with graduation behind me, I find myself surrounded by incredible staff members, courageous families in need of healing, selfless volunteers and a House filled with love as a full-time employee for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
How did I get here?
It all started with one phrase, “We want to start a dance marathon at Ohio University”. That one phrase led me to the position I’m in today. Through my own ambition and the heart of the RMHC families, I returned to Ohio University and started BobcaThon, a yearlong fundraiser and dance marathon that raises support for RMHC of Central Ohio. BobcaThon is now an official student organization on campus with a full leadership team, its own website, two staff advisors and an opening date set for August 25th, the first day of classes.
BobcaThon was brought to life not just through a girl’s dream but through a group of passionate, philanthropic Ohio University students that now serve as the leadership team. Most of all, BobcaThon exists because of the families that experience healing and hope by staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to spend four years on a college campus filled with students who have incredibly giving and loving hearts, to now, working at a home-away-from-home where every single person that walks in the door, family, staff or volunteer, has a heart that yearns to love and give. BobcaThon allows me to continue pursuing the passionate students on college campuses while also making a difference in the lives of families who stay at RMHC of Central Ohio.
My dream of starting a dance marathon has been accomplished. However, my sights are set on making an even bigger impact by starting dance marathons at other schools and universities in Central Ohio. Families at RMHC of Central Ohio can find healing and hope through the passionate hearts of college students. My passionate heart led me to my dream job at the age of 22 where I get to see healing happen every day!