By Melissa Turosik
Youngstown State University’s Guinathon raised $45,073.94 for Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Children’s Miracle Network on Saturday, exceeding their goal by over $15,000.
Guinathon participants clapped, cheered and high-fived the miracle families when they were introduced during the opening ceremony by walking down a red carpet.
Every hour, a miracle family shared their personal stories about their kids and experiences at Akron Children’s Hospital.
To keep the Guinathon participants going throughout the eight-hour dance marathon, there were lip sync battles, dance offs, competitions, “Minute to Win It” challenges, in-event fundraising, lunch, dinner and free giveaways.
Jenna Roesch, Guinathon’s executive director, said she knew from the beginning that the team was capable of their success.
“We couldn’t have reached our goal or surpassed it without each of them and the support of our entire campus community,” she said. “We knew that we were capable of making history ‘For The Kids’ and honoring the battles kids in our local communities are fighting by never giving up.”
Francine Hazy, public relations and social media co-manager of Guinathon, said the overall goal is to celebrate the lives of the miracle kids and give them a place to be their energetic and fun-loving selves.
“These courageous families told their stories, making us cry happy tears and joined us for all of the fun,” Hazy said.
“Last year they raised over $18,000 for our local programs and services,” she said.
Stock said they wanted a dance marathon to begin in the Youngstown area for a while.
“We were thrilled when this group of students from YSU stepped up and took the lead and have done an amazing job,” Stock said.
Guinathon members entertained the audience and danced to raise money for the kids to different kinds of music.
Hazy said they volunteer, plan and fundraise year-round, all leading up to their main event, the eight-hour dance marathon.
Rayann Atway, president of the student government association at YSU, and Natalie Halavick, a senior mathematics major, donated their hair to raise money.
Katie Stanwood, external director of Guinathon, said people should donate because all the money goes back to the children of the families in the valley.
“It’s impacting those who need it close to home,” Stanwood said.
Stanwood said it’s nice to see the kids smiling.
“They’re always happy so it’s good to know what we’re doing is impactful,” Stanwood said.
Hazy said they had other fundraisers throughout the year.
“We also put together bake sales, an ‘80s throwback bash, welcome week events, paint-a-pumpkin and a kickball tournament,” Hazy said.
All funding earned by Guinathon will benefit the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley to fund new programs, equipment and keep the promise that no child will be turned away.
Roesch said one manager, one director and two Guinathon advisors were the only people aware of the amount raised going into the main event on Saturday.
“To the rest of us, the final number was a complete surprise. It made the moment at the end all that more special,” she said. “It really goes to show how much our campus can accomplish when we leave our differences at the door and come together for something bigger than ourselves.”