The Spirits Commission of the Associated Students of UC Irvine on May 15 hosted the first ever UCI Care-A-Thon to help raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The fundraising event allocated $5,923, just shy of their original goal of $6,000.
CMN’s Program Director and CHOC Representative Patrice Clark expressed her excitement and overall joy with UCI’s participation in this charitable cause.
“In the past, we were able to raise about $1 million at the Penn State dance marathon,” Clark said. “For any dance marathon’s first year, it is expected to raise $10,000, but since this is only a kick-off event, our main goal is to build up a legacy and tradition here. We will be happy with whatever we raise.”
Joining Clark at the Care-A-Thon were three families that have been working with CHOC for years. Each family shared its touching story with the crowd at various points throughout the night.
One family, the Spoonhowers, has been working with CHOC for over two years and is pleased with the hospital’s work. Michelle Spoonhower, wife and mother of three, said, “CHOC has done so much for us that we would do anything for them. If it wasn’t for CHOC, my son wouldn’t be here with us today.”
“It’s great to see how college kids are trying to help out these kids and are willing to do something for someone else,” Spoonhower said.
As the families entered the ballroom, crowds of students cheered for the excited children. The event opened with a choreographed dance taught by the volunteers to the audience. Bits and pieces of the dance were revealed throughout the night, aiming to unite all the participants and to constantly keep them on their feet.
In addition, campus dance club B-Boys Anonymous assembled in the middle of the dance floor to keep the party going. Sophia Colby, a child from one of the CHOC families, wowed the B-Boys by running into their circle and showing moves of her own.
“It’s a dance and also a charity event, so why not liven it up for a good cause?” said Vincent Ngo, a second-year biological sciences major and member of B-Boys Anonymous.
“The whole goal of the night is to stand all night for those kids who can’t,” said Dipika Patel, a fourth-year psychology and social behavior major and executive external director for the event.
“We want to promote student involvement and encourage people to give donations. We are hoping that, if everything goes well tonight, then we can start planning for next year’s event – a 24-hour dance marathon,” Patel said.
In addition to the choreographed dance and family speeches, organizations like Circle K, an on-campus volunteer group, donated their time to help with various carnival games and activities such as bean bag toss, dart throw, can pyramid, ring toss and ping pong toss. Play-N-Trade, a gaming store located in nearby University Town Center, hosted a booth where “Guitar Hero 3” could be played free of charge for the night.
All the gamers were given raffle tickets to win prizes like a box of See’s Candy, Red Robin gift cards, a Pete’s Coffee mug and two Disneyland tickets.
Later that night, live performances from bands The 3 Heads and International Farmers, and dance groups Modern Crazy Insane Anteaters, KABA Modern Legacy and Chinese Association Dance Crew entertained audience members.
MCIA kicked off the live entertainment portion of the night with a dance routine. As a branch from CIA, MCIA is a non-competitive dance team at UCI composed of 39 members that originally began performing at basketball games to increase school spirit.
“We usually do a lot of on-campus performances and I must say that this is one of the better events on campus,” said Kris Chow, member of MCIA and a second-year psychology major. “It’s a good thing that we started this event. It is a really good start to see what will work and what we can do to improve things for the future.”
Following MCIA’s dance performance, live musical entertainment by the acoustic-rock band The 3 Heads and International Farmers, a reggae band from Manhattan Beach, took the stage.
Lead vocals and acoustic guitar player Heath Francis of The 3 Heads voiced his opinion about the cause. “We’re always happy to do something like this,” Francis said. “It’s all about giving back and giving your heart and soul and energy to the listeners.”
With a group of over 400 volunteers, performers and participants, the UCI Care-A-Thon proved to be a successful night.
“The event was a huge success, especially for it being the first kick-off at UCI,” Patel said. “We were able to raise $5,923 for CHOC.”
All proceeds from UCI Care-A-Thon will go directly to CHOC for the department that has the greatest need. CHOC has been providing medical care to children since 1964. The Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit charity begun in 1983 to raise money to improve child medicine in hospitals nationwide.
To date, it has raised over $2.7 billion in aid.
The UCI Care-A-Thon joins 80 other universities nationwide including Indiana University, Penn State, Florida State and the University of Southern California in their effort to raise funds on behalf of their local Children’s Hospital and CMN through dance marathons. UCI is the first UC to host the dance marathon for the CMN cause.
David Lumb contributed to this report.