Two weeks ago, I got to experience my very first Rutgers Dance Marathon as a member of the Brett Hall team. I had heard a lot of people say it was the highlight of their college experience and that it was something every Rutgers student had to experience, so of course, I was excited. The event itself was nothing like I expected though, it was one of those moments where I saw Rutgers in a whole new light.
The line dance was one of my favorite parts, people came from the basketball courts, the food stations, and the arts and crafts section just to learn a dance. There were some people who were amazing dancers and others who seemed to struggle a lot with some of the most basic steps, but everyone had fun. Here I saw frat brothers, sorority sisters, sports teams, and residence halls all come together in the spirit of giving, and I was amazed by the level of excitement and involvement. It was a shock to me, especially when compared to a lot of high school events where there was always a palpable awkwardness to just let go and dance due to a fear of judgment. At Dance Marathon, no one cared because everyone was there to have fun and of course for the kids (#ftk).
I knew a lot of friends who were obligated to do Dance Marathon due to their respective organizations so I was expecting a few reluctant faces or some people not caring and sitting on the ground, but nope — not one person looked like they didn’t want to be there. The football team showed off their rehearsed choreography, the girls swim team showed off their gymnastics, the acapella team showed off their vocals. It was amazing to see the abundance of talent at Rutgers.
This was a level of school spirit I had never witnessed before in my entire life, even at the RU vs Penn State game, I did not see people express so much pride. People took whatever color team they were a part of and took it to a whole new level. Shreya Sethi, another member of the Brett Hall team said, “I liked how committed everyone was to the cause and how they really wanted to be there for the kids.” And people really were committed: they wore tutus, and ribbons and bandanas, (and bananas) and the color war events themselves were creative and brought out the healthy competition in all of us. I personally got to participate in hungry hungry hippos game which was a LOT of fun and probably one of the highlights of my night.
For a lot of people, seeing the families, especially the video towards the end of the night, served as a true reminder of why we had all gathered together for 24 hours and danced so long. Hearing the stories of the families whose lives had been changed for the better due to Embrace Kids, and Rutgers donations made me feel a pride for this college. Nishita Patel, a member of the Brett hall team who also experienced her very first dance Marathon this year said, “My favorite part was the family hour because it allowed us to see how appreciative the families were and how much they loved the event. I will definitely be doing it again next year.”
When the seniors came on to the stage and teared up as they spoke of their experiences with the Dance Marathon I felt myself becoming emotional as well because of how passionate they were about the event and how upset they were that it was their last one as a Rutgers University student.
The most defining moment was at the very end of the closing ceremony, as one by one the numbers were held up, and the exact moment that everyone realized that this year the number was going to surpass 1 million dollars the crowd roared, people started cheering, and screaming, and crying, and as the confetti dispersed through the stadium, my heart beamed with pride, and I realized I have never been prouder to be a Scarlet Knight.