By Elizabeth Coss and Natalie Lasky
Guinathon, an organization at Youngstown State University focused on raising money for Akron Children’s Hospital of Mahoning Valley, will hold its seventh-annual dance marathon April 1, where it will unveil its total donations for the year.
The organization holds events throughout the year to raise money, but showcases the marathon as its biggest draw to the community in a final fundraising push.
Celeste Kapalin, a junior public and professional writing major and member of the recruitment team for the organization, said the event allows students at YSU to come together and celebrate money raised for a good cause.
“We dance, we play games, there’s food — and at the end of the night we reveal how much money was raised throughout the year,” Kapalin said. “It’s called [the] dance marathon because we dance for the kids who can’t.”
Last year, the organization raised over $72,000, the most in its history. Kira Bowman, a senior biology major who is on the finance team, said one of the biggest takeaways for her is meeting with the affected families.
“Getting to see and meet our Miracle Families … meeting the kids and just saying, ‘Dang, I had an impact on this. I helped these kids.’ If not this kid specifically, I’m helping [the Mahoning] Valley and I’m giving back to my Valley,” Bowman said.
Miracle Families are families from local hospitals who receive money allocated from Guinathons’ donations to pay for their children’s treatment. Many of these families participate in the event.
Kapalin explained that at the end of the night, Miracle Families also get to participate in traditions like choreographed dances and the cutting of wristbands.
“At the end of the night, everyone gets in a circle. We all have been wearing hospital bracelets for the dance, and the kids come around and cut them off,” Kapalin said. “One of the miracle moms talks about how not every kid gets to go home at the end of the day like we get to go home after the event.”
Brittany Costa, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ program manager and corporate alliance officer with the Foundation Office at Akron Children’s Hospital, helps advise the organization and said Guinathon is one of the hospital’s best programs.
“Every year it has raised more money than years past. It raises funds for our area of greatest need at the hospital to help out with different things like some of our programs that aren’t compensated,” Costa said.
Costa also said there are about 50 children among the families who take part in events like the dance marathon, and that she’s excited to see the university’s impact.
“[I’m] just proud of the students and proud of where they came from at the beginning of this year. Always, always proud of the amount of money that they are able to raise for the kids at Akron Children’s Hospital as well as the impact they are able to make,” Costa said.
The slumber party-themed event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 1 in Beeghly Center. To donate or register for the event, visit Guinathon’s website.