Cal Poly hosted its third annual dance marathon for the Miracle Network on Friday, Feb. 22 and 23. Students danced from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m., blocking off hours of their nights to support infants, children and adolescents suffering from illnesses and injuries.

The theme for the 2019 dance marathon event was “MORE,” referring to the program’s goals for more Mustang participants — and raising more funds. The goal this year was to reach $80,0000, nearly a $15,000 increase from last year’s $65,432.18 total. Despite their goal, this year $50,032.19 was raised.

Construction management senior Erica Zetterquist, who serves as a chair of operations for the dance marathon team, remains optimistic in the face of lower numbers than expected.

“I think, internally, we did a lot of growing and I think that’s needed so we can continue to make big goals and reach those goals in the future,” Zetterquist said. “Yes, this year we didn’t reach the exact goal we wanted to, but that wasn’t for a lack of growth in the movement and within ourselves.”

Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

Zetterquist said a smaller team this year and the lack of connections to other organizations they had in previous years could have contributed to the smaller turn out. The larger numbers for the last two events could have also been due to the promise of Greek Week points for greek organization members.

Psychology senior and Cal Poly Dance Marathon President Kayla Bakhshi said the team will be restructured next year, adding new positions, delegating tasks differently and increasing the overall size of the team. For Bakhshi, while the growth of the movement is important, the numbers do not take precedent over the cause being fundraised for.

“Something that was said at the event was, ‘If that money can save even one child, that’s enough for us,’ and obviously [the money raised is] going to do a lot more than save one child,” Bakhshi said. “When the hospital looks at how much we raise, no matter what the number is, they’re extremely grateful to have a program like us that is giving funds at all. So even if we don’t reach goals, we have to step back and remember that what the movement is about.”

The effect that the big event has on the families that the funds support remains positively impactful nonetheless. Anne Peyrat, the Children’s Miracle Network gift officer for Cottage Health, wrote in an email to Mustang News that CPDM has helped to raise more than $150,000 total to help save the lives of critically ill and injured children.

Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

According to Peyrat, the funds raised by the Children’s Miracle Network partners like CPDM are put towards state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology, such as NICU “giraffe” beds, cardiac electrocardiogram and ambulance transport gurneys. The money also supports patient service programs and family assistance, Peyret said.

The Cottage has also recently completed the Compton and Arlington Pavilions as a result of the fundraising, providing a central location for CCMC services on the same floor and allowing improvements for patients as well as staff.

“We couldn’t be more proud and honored to have the support of Cal Poly Dance Marathon,” Peyrat wrote. “The students pour their heart and soul into ensuring that children in our community who need the very best in medical care are able to receive it, regardless of ability to pay.”

While Zetterquist and Bakhshi said they cannot speak for the future of the team due to their upcoming graduation dates, they said the hope is to continue expanding the program to be as large as UCLA’s dance marathon or that of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“If we were going in the same pattern of how much a program [should] grow year after year, we still exceeded what a third year program would’ve made,” Bakhshi said. “So last year, we would’ve made $41,000, and this year we would’ve made $47,000 if we were following the normal track. We still come out being super positive and super proud of what Cal Poly did and what our team did because over $50,000 is still a ton of money.”

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