More than 1,200 students will “stand for those who can’t” for the fifth time at RebelTHON Saturday, the annual dance marathon fundraiser for the patients of Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.
RebelTHON is part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a country-wide movement in which more than 150 high schools and colleges participate.
With 27 members on the board of directors and 140 committee members, RebelTHON executive director Marianne Schmidt said the RebelTHON organization has been preparing extensively for the event through fundraising.
“Every year we have a different goal, but our goal this year is to raise $150,000. I have no doubt we will reach it,” Schmidt said.
The dance marathon will be held in the Turner Center and lasting 12 hours, from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Students will dance to various entertainment like bands, DJs and “Keri” from Clubbin’ Cardio. Families of Batson Hospital patients will also share personal stories with attendees throughout the night.
Those who did not sign up for the event can still dance for the kids from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the “community block party.” Anyone is welcome at the block party; admission is $5, but it is free for children under 10.
RebelTHON director of outreach Lizzy Pitts said even though the dance marathon is only once a year, the organization fundraises year-round for the hospital.
The money raised from RebelTHON will benefit the 150,000 patients at the hospital by funding research, newer specialized equipment for pediatric and neonatal patients and remodeling the Eli Manning Children’s Clinic.
“RebelTHON raises funds and awareness year-round and grants the opportunity to students to stay involved and on fire for this work throughout the year, not just during the annual dance marathon,” Pitts said. “The dance marathon is a celebration of the year’s efforts, the party after months of dedication to the kids.”
RebelTHON board members get to interact with patients at the hospital occasionally. Schmidt said they took two trips to Jackson during the first semester to spend time with the patients and their families.
“At the beginning of the year, the board took a trip to Jackson, where we toured Batson,” Schmidt said. “Afterward, we went to the Children’s Museum and hung out with some of the families from Batson while eating pizza and running around the museum, playing. While it can be difficult sometimes, we try to make sure we are involved with these families as often as possible so we are not strangers when it comes time for the dance marathon.”
Second-time participant and marketing major Clara Holt said she had no idea that participating in RebelTHON would have such an impact on her.
“Before I participated in RebelTHON, I did not know that it would end up being one of my favorite things I’ve done in college,” Holt said. “Dancing with other college students for 12 hours sounds pretty exhausting, but the environment is so energizing and truly touches your heart.”
Pitts said RebelTHON will bring the university and surrounding community together to fight for an extremely important cause.
“I believe RebelTHON is truly a campus-wide movement because fighting for sick kids is a cause that everyone can relate to and get behind,” Pitts said. “We are raising funds and awareness for the little Landsharks in Jackson so that one day they can come to Oxford, help other children who will be cured and see what happens when a few people get together and dare to dream.”