More than 210 people participated in Bobcathon and raised a total of $100,000 during Ohio University’s 12-hour dance marathon, which raises money for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio.
The dancers and staff of the event wrote “For the Kids” on their hands, arms, faces, shirts and signs plastered throughout the room. It was the fourth annual Bobcathon, and organizers set the goal this year at $100,000.
OU President Duane Nellis spoke at Bobcathon and said being able to provide support for the families at the Ronald McDonald House is an important part of the “Ohio University family.”
“Being able to provide support (to) those families through this important cause … is what it’s about,” Nellis said.
There are 106 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. This year, the dancers were encouraged to raise an extra $106 dollars during the event. Several speakers shared their stories during the event about their experiences utilizing the Ronald McDonald House.
OU Board of Trustees member Steve Casciani said raising $100,000 is enough for 1,000 nights for families to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
“Last week, I had a conversation with President Nellis about the things that we can do to prepare you guys for your future,” Casciani, who is also a member of the Ronald McDonald House Board of Trustees, said. “I’m telling you right now this is one of the most important lessons you’re going to ever remember, and that’s learning how and feeling ... giving back to the community.”
Elizabeth Grounds is a mother who has been directly affected by the Ronald McDonald House. She had a daughter, Violet, who has frequently been in and out of hospitals. Grounds said she spoke at the Bobcathon last year.
“We were about to embark on a very scary journey,” Grounds said. “Last year, Violet had a major brain surgery to try to help with her seizures. In the spring, she had seizures so constant … she couldn’t speak, she couldn’t swallow, mostly just staring and drooling.”
Grounds said one of the biggest bright spots in her family was being able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House and still being able to be a mother to all three of her kids.
“When I’m stuck in the hospital taking care of Violet, that means I can’t be a mommy to my other two kiddos,” Grounds said. “They were able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House for about a month. I can’t tell you what a difference that made for me.”
Violet is also a huge fan of the Ronald McDonald House, Grounds said.
“For most kiddos it would be a scary experience saying, ‘We’re going to the hospital tomorrow,’ but for Violet, it means she gets to go to the house,” Grounds said. “With the Ronald McDonald House, we get to go have fun the night before. For us, it’s like a mini-vacation.”
Carolyn Appelhans, president of Bobcathon, said when dancers sign up, they commit themselves to not only standing for 12 hours, but also to raising at least $100. During the event itself, people are encouraged to continue to raise money.
“People are doing Instagram stories. They’ve been doing live feeds on Facebook and Instagram,” Appelhans, a senior studying specialized studies in event planning, said. “A lot of people have been calling people and really putting out the message that 106 represents the 106 families staying at the house.”
Lexi Murray, a freshman studying communication studies, said she chose to participate because she wanted to challenge herself and feel the exhaustion that the kids would go through.
“I have family friends that have been directly affected, and I heard about the organization through my mod mates, and I thought it would be really cool,” Murray said. “It is something to really challenge myself ... and raise money through a good cause.”