HootaThon raises money for Children’s Hospital

For the past four years, Nazareth Academy’s “Naz-A-Thon” has exceeded its yearly goals and has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to HootaThon.

HootaThon reveals their total of money raised on Saturday night. SOURCE: MaryAnn Thackrah

Last Saturday, Temple University hosted its annual HootaThon, a dance marathon to benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 2013, the first HootaThon ended up raising over $60,000. As the dance marathons continue to grow each year, the event has to credit a few Northeast Philadelphia schools with its evolvement.

Back in 2014, Nazareth Academy High School became the first high school to host a dance marathon that HootaThon oversaw.

For the past four years, Nazareth Academy’s “Naz-A-Thon” has exceeded its yearly goals and has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to HootaThon. Just this year alone, Naz-A-Thon went into the marathon with a goal of $104,000, but ended up bringing in a total of $192,400.44.

Cheryl Sylvester, faculty moderator and creator for Naz-A-Thon, was in attendance for this year’s HootaThon and recognizes how Northeast schools and residents have impacted the fundraising for the event.

“I think in the Northeast you see a lot of children treated at CHOP, and I think it’s a big personal connection there,” said Sylvester. “It’s just a very personal connection where everybody wants to support CHOP, so the Northeast is just a big area where we’re so fortunate to have CHOP basically in our backyard, that we want to be able to show our support for it.”

Naz-A-Thon has contributed to HootaThon for the past four years and was the sole school in Northeast Philadelphia to contribute to the dance marathon up until a year ago.

Last year, Archbishop Ryan High School held its very first “Tribe-A-Thon.” Lindsay Worthington and Dan Chiodo, juniors at Ryan and co-founders of Tribe-A-Thon, are just happy to be of assistance for a cause that they deeply care about.

“The children at CHOP need our support to keep fighting every day and we knew Archbishop Ryan could provide some support to those children,” said Worthington. “The miracles that happen every day in CHOP and the amount of strength and courage those children have is extremely inspiring. They deserve every amount of happiness and joy so if we can provide that in the smallest amount, then all the hard work and dedication we have put into our event has been by far worth it.”

Tribe-A-Thon raised over $20,000 this year, and with Worthington and Chiodo at the helm for one more year in 2019, they are excited to see the continued growth of their beloved dance marathon.

The high school dance marathons and college dance marathons are similar in nature, but the difference in size of the function brings its own unique perspective. MaryAnn Thackrah, executive director of HootaThon, has been on both ends of the planning.

Thackrah, a graduate of Nazareth Academy and current student at Temple University, first got involved three years ago on the High School Dance Marathon Committee. It’s a very time-consuming position, as the committee looks to grow each year, but she believes significant strides have been made in promoting the event.

“Our experience and growth in those five years allowed us to solidify methods in spreading awareness, recruitment and fundraising to help us ultimately run our dance marathon with ease,” said Thackrah. “Our event this year grew in quality with the theme “Dance Today, Adventure Tomorrow” emanating from our decorations to our Miracle Kid speeches to our activities throughout the day and culminating with our year’s worth fundraising total of $465,533.79.”

Besides Naz-A-Thon and Tribe-A-Thon, Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, will hold its first dance marathon to benefit HootaThon. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com