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UD students raised $2.25 million to fight childhood cancer during the 2019 UDance event, attended by 4,200 people at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center. The coronavirus situation prompted cancellation of the 2020 event, but students have been raising money all year to help the cause.
UD students raised $2.25 million to fight childhood cancer during the 2019 UDance event, attended by 4,200 people at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center. The coronavirus situation prompted cancellation of the 2020 event, but students have been raising money all year to help the cause.

UDance fundraising goes on

Photo by Evan Krape

Coronavirus won’t stop UD students from supporting child cancer patients and their families

With the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, events have been canceled across the nation and world, and some have been harder to forgo than others. Brunch with friends? There will always be another slice of avocado toast. Long-awaited festivals, reunions or weddings? Harder to swallow. 

Then there is the cancellation of UDance at the University of Delaware on March 22, which ranks high on the heartbreak scale, especially for students. The culminating event of a year-long, student-run fundraising effort, this annual, 12-hour dance marathon benefits the families of pediatric cancer patients. Last year, 4,200 people packed into the Bob Carpenter Sports Center to raise awareness and $2.25 million for the cause. Sick children in attendance felt buoyed by the support. This year, everyone will have to stay home. 

“The health of the community comes first,” said co-executive director Paige Boyadjis, a UD senior. “So we knew this was the right decision — even if it was a difficult and upsetting one to make.”

As hard as the cancellation has been for 6,000 student volunteers, there is a silver lining: A year’s worth of work will not go to waste. The money UDance participants have raised so far will still go, as planned, to the Wilmington-based Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, a nonprofit that funds cancer research and provides financial assistance to affected families. And all the money that participants had pledged to raise from now through the big day? Motivated by the resiliency of the kids they support, students are doubling down on those efforts. If you happened to notice undergraduates canning for change on Main Street in Newark shortly after the UDance cancellation was announced on March 10, this wasn’t a mistake. Volunteers are, simply, refusing to give up. (Although they have since moved to strategies that allow for safe social distancing.)  

“Whether coronavirus is happening or not, there are still 46 kids [in America] getting diagnosed with cancer everyday,” Boyadjis said. “Just because our event is canceled doesn’t mean we should stop fighting. If anything, it means we should work even harder. I feel so lucky we have a team of people who, of course, are devastated, yet still so motivated to keep pushing — to keep reminding the entire UD community why this work is so important.” 

As for March 22, Boyadjis and her co-executive director, fellow UD senior Allison Worms, have pivoted to a virtual format. In other words, they are hard at work figuring out ways to bring the performances, speeches and hallmark energy of UDance to their social-media platforms. A goal, they explained, is to have all the B+ heroes, the event’s cancer-patient partners, feel the same UDance spirit as always — albeit from a safe, cyber distance.

The continued effort of the UDance leadership team and the volunteers is not surprising, considering the value and spirit that unite the UD community, now and forever.

The entire UDance team, they said, would love for you to follow along on Facebook (@UDanceDel), Instagram (@udance) and possibly another in-the-works platform (details forthcoming). Or — better yet — make a donation

“Although this isn’t the way we pictured UDance 2020 ending, we are doing our best to close this year in the most amazing way we can,” Worms said. “And to get everyone ready for UDance 2021, which will be even more successful.”

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