PDM raises more than $360k at first in-person dance event since 2019

By Elizabeth Primrose, Staff Writer

Members of the Pitt community, including various Pitt Greek Life organizations and the cheer team, gathered at the Charles L. Cost Sports Center on Saturday for a 12-hour dance marathon celebrating the culmination of Pitt Dance Marathon’s year-long fundraising efforts. This year, PDM participants raised more than $366,000.

PDM is “the largest student-run philanthropy” at Pitt, according to PDM’s website. PDM works throughout the year to raise funds and awareness for UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, which is a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

PDM had around 1,500 participants and 130 staff members this year, according to Alyssa Berry, PDM’s director of recruitment and a senior English literature and law, criminal justice and society double major. Participants had until midnight on the day of the dance marathon to fundraise. At midnight, the PDM staff revealed how much participants fundraised — $366,817.32.

According to the PDM executive board, the top fundraising Greek team was Kappa Delta, which raised $17,066.28, and the top fundraising non-Greek team was CHAARG, which raised $2,710.62. Followed by Kappa Delta, the other top raising Greek teams included Delta Delta Delta, which raised $13,715, Sigma Sigma Sigma, which raised $12,178, and Theta Phi Alpha, which raised $11,448.

Emma Kappler, the marketing director of PDM, said they did not have any in-person programming the last two years due to COVID-19.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Kappler said. “I’ve been in this organization for three years, but this is my first dance marathon.”

According to Kappler, a junior political science and law, criminal justice and society major, the PDM recruitment team starts recruiting participants in the fall, using Child Health Day in the beginning of October as a big push day to get more participants.

A total of 76 student organizations, including social and academic fraternities and sororities, club sports teams and professional societies participated in PDM and were matched with other organizations to form “color teams,” according to Kappler. These color teams compete in different sports competitions for prizes on the day of the dance marathon event.

Music blasted throughout the Cost Sports Center during the 12-hour dance marathon for participants and miracle kids, who are a part of the Children’s Miracle Network, and families to dance. Various groups, such as Rince na gCathrach Cruach, the competitive Irish dance team, and Pitt Cheer performed the day of the dance marathon.

Harris Jayson, a sophomore human resource management and marketing major, spent about nine and a half hours at the dance marathon on Saturday. At the event, Jayson participated in a game of dodgeball with other members of the red team, made tote bags and ran through an inflatable obstacle course with some of the kids.

Jayson said he enjoyed participating in these various activities, something he and others who participated virtually in PDM last year could not do.

“It was great to have the event in person,” Jayson said.

Jayson said he liked getting to interact with the other teams at the event as well as seeing the kids enjoy the different games that day.

“There was a sense of community,” Jayson said. “I know everyone was really excited to raise money for the kids.”

Jayson individually raised $250, and his group, Zeta Beta Tau, raised $1,201.

PDM, in tandem with Greek Week, also hosted a fashion show with miracle kids. This year, the fashion show took place on March 2.

“I love the fashion show,” Kappler said. “We have a fashion show every year for the miracle kids. You get to see the kids in their element. You get to see them be happy and excited.”

Berry said this was the second in-person dance marathon she has attended. As a senior, Berry said she enjoyed watching others experience their first in-person dance marathon.

“It’s so exciting to watch all of our efforts,” Berry said. “Most of our staff has never been to the event in-person, except for our seniors. It’s exciting for our seniors to watch the other staff members get to enjoy what we have done.”

Despite all of the exciting games, performances and dancing, PDM Membership Director Colleen Gieringer said getting to speak to the families of the miracle kids was her favorite part of the dance marathon event.

“It was definitely a bit overwhelming to start, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gieringer, a junior rehabilitation sciences major, said. “But I’ve just been so blown away. The entire Pitt community has shown up for us and for this amazing cause.”