Flashing lights, balloons and music can only mean one thing: the return of the Retriever Dance Marathon, an annual event on campus, organized by a student group of the same name, that seeks to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer.
For the third year in a row, the RDM brought the community at UMBC together to raise awareness for the B Positive foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to help children with pediatric cancer and their families. The University Center ballroom was transformed into a dance hall for the night, and from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., dance groups and individuals competed to raise money and show off their moves.
The annual dance marathon is a chance for students to let their hair down for a good cause, and this year featured giveaways, free food, raffles and performances running all night long. The organization set a goal to raise $5,000 this year, topping their $3,000 goal from last year, but the money is not their only goal.
Janae Cruz, the Student Life Coordinator for Student Engagement, says that while a monetary goal is always set, the most important thing is “increasing the teams and students invested in the cause” while “bringing together the UMBC community for a good cause.”
The purpose of the event was to raise money for cancer research and for the families of pediatric cancer patients, but Sriya Namagiri, a senior biology and pre-med student and the internal president of RDM stresses that, while the group would like to top their goal of $5,000, they have other aspirations.
According to Namagiri, they hope to “[focus] on outreach and informing the UMBC community about what we do and spreading our message to a larger community.”
Namagiri adds that the organization raises money throughout the year, and that the dance marathon is a celebration of what they’ve done in the year and a chance to raise awareness for those helped by the B+ foundation.
Among the groups performing tonight were the dancers of Retriever Bhangra, an on-campus dance group that focuses on Punjabi culture. Shalini Jain, one of the dancers from Retriever Bhangra, said that her group was excited to perform, and that she found about the event through friends who were on the board.
Jain said, “We decided to join, because it’s a really great cause, so why not!”
B+ assists families in need by helping families with medical expenses and emotional support. They also raise money for pediatric cancer research through grant programs.
The organization honors the life of Andrew McDonough, who passed away at the age of 14 after a 167-day battle with complications from leukemia. The organization’s name was inspired by the boy’s blood type, and the name became a mantra for those affected by childhood cancer: “Be positive.”
While the dance marathon is RDM’s big event at UMBC, the students work throughout the year, and hope that events like Friday’s will spread awareness across campus.