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Dance Marathon brings Halloween to Children’s Hospital

Talyah Askew-Caldwell, 5, chooses a glowstick as she trick or treats the halls of UNC Children's Hospital.
Talyah Askew-Caldwell, 5, chooses a glowstick as she trick or treats the halls of UNC Children's Hospital.

UNC students took to Franklin Street Wednesday night to celebrate Halloween, but they weren’t the only ones to celebrate.

A group of students also brought Halloween festivities to children who couldn’t partake in the usual trick-or-treating fun.

UNC Dance Marathon, the student organization that annually raises money for families with children in the N.C. Children’s Hospital, hosted Halloween activities at the hospital Wednesday.

“Not only do we want to provide financial support, but emotional support as well,” said Molly Sutherland, publicity committee chairwoman for Dance Marathon.

Activities included costume-making, facepainting, a mummy-making station and arts and crafts.

Danielle Bates, director of communications at the Children’s Hospital, said she was happy to see how the children reacted to all the activities.

“We have kids that come in every day of the year that miss milestone events,” Bates said.

“It really means a lot that the children can be included in the Halloween festivities because they get the opportunity to celebrate along with every other child.”

Dance Marathon provided fabric for the children to make superhero capes in keeping with this year’s Dance Marathon superhero theme. Some children even wore their own costumes.

Patient Anthony Henderson, 13, said he thought that the different activities were fun.

Shunika Henderson, Anthony’s mother, said she was impressed with how much the volunteers helped.

“It makes the process of being at the hospital easier to cope with,” she said.

“My son’s interaction with the other children has helped him to participate and enjoy the activities.”

Trick-or-treating was also incorporated in the day’s events, with the children making their way to different rooms in the hospital to receive various toys and prizes.

“This is in its own way very fun, and the kids can build memories,” Bates said.

“All the projects are very rewarding.”

This was the first year that Dance Marathon was in charge of the Halloween celebration at the Children’s Hospital.

Beth Bailey, senior child life specialist at the hospital, used to coordinate the hospital’s Halloween-related activities. She said she was glad that the celebration was in Dance Marathon’s hands this year.

“They did everything right and were more than happy to do it,” she said.

Olivia Smith, hospital committee chairwoman for Dance Marathon, said it was Bailey who suggested that Dance Marathon host the event this year.

Smith said events like this are important so that kids in the hospital can take part in normal childhood festivities.

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“It took their minds off treatments and procedures and brought back their minds to being a kid and playing,” she said.

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