The annual Cal Poly Dance Marathon (CPDM) will run from Friday at 7 p.m. until the sun comes up the next day at 7 a.m. With games, performances and 12 straight hours of dancing, this student-led movement aims to raise $80,000 to benefit Cottage Children’s Medical Center.

Industrial engineering junior Nora Kabbani has worked closely with CPDM for the past two years. Like many of the hundreds of participants, she said her main motivation is meeting the children in person.

“You see how happy and healthy the kids are today, and you get to say, ‘I helped them,’” Kabbani said. “You get to see what an impact the organization has and how it helps kids who deserve a fighting chance.”

Throughout the night, many activities and teamwork exercises will take place to keep participants constantly energized. To some, staying up all night and moving nonstop might seem daunting, but for Kabbani, one of the event’s MC’s, it is worth it.

“You don’t even want to sit down because you’re dancing for the kids who can’t,” she said.

Among performances from Cal Poly groups such as CPSalsa and Smile and Nod, participants will also hear from the families who have spent time in the Cottage Children’s Hospital. They will learn the stories of children like Sloane Kon, a young girl who was born prematurely.

“Now [Kon is] a dazzling 7-year-old who loves to dance,” CPDM Executive Director Kayla Bakhshi said. “She will for sure be doing gymnastics, and probably flossing on stage.”

Bakhshi has raised $4,034 so far ― the highest amount of all participants. She began fundraising as soon as the event page was released over the summer, using word of mouth, social media, garage sales, Venmo requests and other various tactics.

“In order to raise the amount you want, you need to think outside the box,” Bakhshi said. “You have to think, ‘A lot of people have already donated this way, so how can I do something different?’”

In addition to kids’ stories, there will also be students called Miracle Mustangs, who have also been treated at local hospitals. Bakhshi said she hopes their stories will be especially impactful on campus.

“You might see somebody you’re going to school with and passing by on campus and you don’t even realize that taking part in a movement like this is helping them eventually become Cal Poly proud,” Bakhshi said.

At the end of the event, there will be a big reveal of how much money was raised. This happens at 7 a.m. and is kept a secret from everyone, including the CPDM executive board.

Donations will stay local to fund Cottage Children’s Medical Center, which provides critical treatments, pediatric medical equipment and other healthcare services for sick or injured kids. According to the Miracle Network Dance Marathon’s website, students across North America have raised more than $250 million for local children’s hospitals. To donate to or register for CPDM, visit the Miracle Network website.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct a spelling error. 

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