UNC-Duke rivalry comes to Dance Marathon to raise money

As the UNC’s men’s basketball team defeated N.C. State University Saturday afternoon, UNC Dance Marathon stood in the same arena, but faced another rival: Duke.

Basing this year’s Smith Center Children’s Challenge off the long time rivalry between the two universities, UNC Dance Marathon challenged Duke Dance Marathon to see which organization could raise the most money for their respective hospitals.

Saturday’s fundraising event was a precursor to the Duke Rivalry Week, which will be Feb. 10-14, said Brendan Leonard, UNC-DM’s Chair of Fundraising Projects.

The challenge, which is one of the many fundraising efforts the group holds throughout the year, involved 30 dance marathon participants who collected donations inside the Dean Smith Center. Some held signs that read, “BEAT DUKE,” in an effort to intensify the rivalry.

Brad Dunnagan, who has participated in UNC-DM for three years and is on the Business Management Committee, was one of the volunteers at the game Saturday.

“A lot of people donated on the basis of ‘we don’t like Duke’,” he said.

UNC-DM will factor the donations raised at Saturday’s game into the overall fundraising total against the earnings of Duke DM. Leonard said Duke DM does not have a scheduled men’s basketball fundraising date.

“We really challenged Duke Dance Marathon this year; they don’t have the relationship we have with our Athletics Department, so they couldn’t get into a game. We’re hoping that in the future they will be able to,” said Leonard.

UNC-DM spends a year fundraising for the patients and families of the NC Children’s Hospital. At the end of the year, the volunteers celebrate with a 24-hour dance marathon. This year’s celebration will be held in Fetzer Gym on Mar. 21 and 22.

While UNC-DM has done the challenge in past years, this is the first time it has challenged Duke DM to a fundraising competition. Chassity Bobbitt , UNC-DM’s media relations sub-chairwoman, said the winner will be determined by who collects the higher percentage of money for their Dance Marathon.

While the winner of the fundraising competition will not be announced until the end of the Duke Rivalry Week, Saturday’s event raised a little under $1,500, Leonard said.

Despite having more than 2,000 volunteers and contributors, UNC-DM is about more than finances, said senior Liz Goslin, who serves as this year’s Executive Director.

“We don’t set a firm monetary goal each year because we really believe that our impact that we have on the hospital extends beyond being purely monetary. That we want to be an emotional support system as well.”

Last year’s UNC-DM raised $430,181.68, but participants are motivated by the camaraderie in addition to the fundraising efforts.

“It’s just really cool to know that there are so many students who are coming together to celebrate a year of hard work,” Goslin said. “I was just also kind of fueled by that, you know, there’s a kind of infectious energy about the gym and the thought of sitting doesn’t even cross your mind because there are so many other people going through it with you.”

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