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BobcaThon morale captains teach students different dances during the 2024 BobcaThon in Ping at Ohio University, Athens, Feb. 24, 2024.

BobcaThon celebrates its 10th year of fundraising

On Saturday, a 12-hour dance marathon took place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in Ping Recreation Center. Known as BobcaThon, Ohio University students are tasked with staying on their feet for 12 hours in the name of charity. 

For many students, staff and alumni, BobcaThon is more than just a 12-hour dancing fundraiser. It’s a special event bringing Bobcats together to celebrate and raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio. 

The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio, or RMHC, is a sanctuary for families with sick children to be able to stay close to treatment facilities. The Columbus location is steps away from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, allowing families with hospitalized children a place to rest and a community to support them. They provide a place to sleep, food and activities to keep families positive. 

According to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, RMHC currently serves 6,500 families annually, with 84 guest rooms added in 2023 to help accommodate the increase in need. 

The campus-wide BobcaThon is back with its rebuilding year after being canceled last spring. 

For President Emily DeMinico, a senior studying hearing, speech and language sciences, bringing the dance marathon back was challenging, given the adversity of previous years. 

“Last year, it was canceled completely due to lack of funding and interest,” DeMinico said. “This year, we're in a rebuilding year. We tried combining positions and taking away positions, or adding ones that we thought might be beneficial in the long run, and really created a solid foundation to pass on to next year's BobcaThon.”

DeMinico said this year had three executive positions to last year’s four.

This year's BobcaThon theme was “Dancing Through the Decades” in honor of the 10th anniversary of the fundraiser at OU. In anticipation of the anniversary, the entire executive board of BobcaThon met consistently to ensure a better turnout for this year's event. 

Abby Donnelly, a senior majoring in dance and a director of BobcaThon, remembers her experience visiting the RMHC during the fall semester. 

“We went to the one in Columbus in the Fall Semester, and we just helped clean up,” Donnelly said. “I'm from Cincinnati, so I've been to the Cincinnati one with my church and we do a lot with the kids there. The families should be at the event and it's really fun seeing the kiddos run around.” 

There was a lot of positivity surrounding the event on Saturday, with many OU students dressing up like iconic Ronald McDonald characters. Others supported their colored teams by coming decked out in tutus and sunglasses. 

For Issy Martin-Dye, a junior majoring in journalism and publication design, dressing up as the Hamburglar made her easy to spot among the rainbow of people. But what was more important to her than dressing up was the fundraiser itself. 

“We want to raise money for the kids, and we're really excited to dress up in these costumes and just have a fun day dancing,” Martin-Dye said. 

BobcaThon isn’t something that benefits just the families. Many students find the fundraiser to be an escape from the mid-semester slump and a motivation to continue their studies. 

Madeline Daley, a junior studying media arts and production, appreciates the versatility of the fundraiser and its ability to attract many people to raise money for charity. 

“I think it's always good to do something that's for a good cause,” Daley said. “Especially when it's fun, it really is enticing.”

For some, RMHC is more than just a charity. Elizabeth Boor, the Major Gifts Officer at the house, says it is her passion to be a part of this fundraiser. She aims to give back to those who need it most. 

“I ended up being partnered with BobcaThon because I was involved in the dance marathon myself when I was in college,” Boor said. “This is not only a cause that's near and dear to my heart but also a fundraiser that is as well. The Ronald McDonald House itself is an incredible place because it's the silver lining for a dark time for a lot of families.” 

The collaboration between the leadership team of BobcaThon and RMHC is why the event happened successfully this year. The dance marathon's comeback represents the community that stands strong here at Ohio. 

“Working with Emily and the rest of the leadership team all year has been incredible to get to learn more about the Ohio University community and get to share our community with them, too,” Boor said. “The house is all about building community. I think it's amazing to be able to do something that isn't right next to the house or the hospital but can still bring support to it.” 

BobcaThon has found success in the outcome of this year's dance marathon experience, having raised $20,160 for RMHC. But it’s not the number that makes them feel like they have made a difference. 

DeMinico recounted the times she spent at RMHC and how that experience has shaped her gratitude and appreciation for any amount of money they could’ve raised. 

“I don't think I've ever visited RMHC without crying,” DeMinico said. “I know that sounds like a negative thing, but it's just such a moving experience to go and interact with children and families. We want to be able to move other people and have them understand what RMHC really does and how much it really impacts people.” 


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