Marist students danced the afternoon away in efforts to put an end to dating violence. For the third year, the Purplethread and Marist Dance Ensemble joined together to make the dance-a-thon a success.
“Domestic violence is not something easy to talk about. Hosting the dance-a-thon every year is a fun and more comfortable way to bring light to a serious issue that college students need to be aware of,” said Meg O’Malley, Vice President of the Purplethread.
Last Wednesday, the student lounge was filled with students dancing, taking pictures and purchasing raffles. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Grace Smith House, a private not-for-profit domestic violence agency, which provides both residential and non-residential services to victims of domestic violence and their children.
Dance-a-thons are a popular way for colleges to raise money for a cause and encourage student participation. At Penn State University, the “THON” is a 46-hour dance marathon that raises money towards pediatric cancer.
“It’s the largest student run philanthropy in the world and is something that everyone in the Penn State community passionately supports,” said senior at Penn State, Kaitlyn Mayberry. The THON has over 15,000 students involved and 700 have the honor to dance each year. Attracting alumni, individual supporters, students and corporate sponsors the THON has raised over $101 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital since its start in 1977.
“Because Marist is a smaller school, it would be difficult to make this into an overnight or weekend-long event. Our club is still fairly new, as is the event, but each year has brought tremendous improvements,” said Julian DeZao, treasurer of the Purplethread.
The Purplethread is a Marist-born organization founded by a then-student survivor of an abusive relationship. “My number one goal began as and still is for no one else at the school we all love so much to learn the dangers of dating violence the way I did: by living through them,” said Danielle DeZao, founder of Purplethread, “we have become a family, a movement, a power force that says: we can make a difference.”
DeZao has been very successful in her efforts to raise domestic violence awareness at Marist and beyond. The Purplethread has hosted similar events such as an on-campus flash mob and a walk to end dating violence with the participation of Marist men’s athletic teams.
“I think a dance-a-thon is fun and creative way to send a message. Here we are dancing and eating while raising awareness and donating to a cause. To me, the event looks like a success,” said participant Rose McMahon.
Marist’s dance-a-thon was voted Best Regional Community Service Event of the month in 2012, the first year it was held. This year, in addition to raising money for the Grace Smith House, toiletry donations such as shampoo, soap and toothpaste were also collected.
“For the future, I would love to see more of the Marist community involved including faculty, since majority of the attendees are members of either Dance Ensemble or Purple Thread,” said Dance Ensemble President Deanna Clark.