Story by Mary Landucci, CSUB Public Affairs Intern
Photos by Adrienne Villanueva, CSUB Public Affairs Intern
The roar of 100 plus CSUB students chanting “for the kids,” and the glow of neon orange shirts sporting the ‘Runner DM’ logo were the introduction to the third Annual dance marathon in benefit of The Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center at Bakersfield’s Memorial Hospital. The event was held on Friday, April 18th from 7PM to 7AM in the CSUB Student Union. The challenge; to stay on their feet 12- hours, the mission; to help save the lives of children in Kern County.
From the start it was clear that the Runner Dance Marathon was one of passion and not obligation. “I don’t think of it as being a hassle, we have live music, an awesome DJ and you’re surrounded by great company, and super heroes, the kids!” said CSUB student Shannon Smith. Smith became involved with the event through her Sorority Phi Sigma Sigma when they decided to make the Dance Marathon their annual campus community service event.
The dance marathon is a nation wide movement that was brought to CSUB by ASI President and founding member of Runner DM, Hilda Nieblas. “We plan for 8, 12 months at a time and it’s hard, it’s tiring. If we can help the children that are around us, that is what really encourages me to continue to keep doing this. Students look forward to the dance marathon, they look forward to wearing the Runner DM shirts, they understand the meaning behind this 12-hour event. I think that’s when I realized that when you see people come back you’ve touched them in some way. The dance marathon is something that they go to because they truly feel that they’re making a difference in their community.”
The emotion in the room was palpable, as tears formed in the eyes of students and faculty alike as families told the harrowing stories of their children who have been helped by the money raised at the dance marathon. Another round of chanting of “for the kids” started as mother of two Amy Whittington, her family, and many others were honored on stage as a Miracle Family treated at the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center.
Both of Whittington’s sons have been patients of the NICU at the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center due to complications during her pregnancies resulting from Whittington’s Type One Diabetes. “This event and others like it, is what saved my kids lives. They were able to provide the medication and the equipment and all of the stuff that the NICU had that were able to keep them alive. This event is very personal for me, “ stated Whittington.
Runner DM is an important event and it matters not only for the families that it touches but also for CSUB and the students that put heart and hard work into making this event a success. CSUB President, Dr. Horace Mitchell stated, “The dance marathon is just an outstanding collaboration among many of our student organizations. These students, they’re engaging the community by supporting these young children who are at the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center and who have a variety of very serious conditions and I think it was great that ‘the kids’ were recognized as the real heroes for enduring and managing and handling what’s been presented to them which would be challenges for any of us. I just congratulate these students, they’re outstanding, they are very clearly doing this for the kids, and I’m very proud to be their president.”
This year the dance marathon raised $8,000 in support of The Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center and Children’s Miracle Network exceeding last year’s $7,300. To get involved with the Runner Dance Marathon, send a message to the Runner DM board on their Facebook page at Dance Marathon at California State University, Bakersfield.