Tuohy: Dancing marathon is great, but uncreative

Starting a unique charity event would be an even better use of Temple’s time.

Mary Claire

Mary ClaireNo standing still. No sleeping. And don’t even think about sitting down.

Another year has come and gone, and it‘s time to dance through the night to raise money for children in the hospital. But just in case you read the flyer too quickly: “Hoota” has been spliced in front, and the location has been changed from Penn State to Temple.

Since 1977, Penn State students have been dancing their way toward conquering pediatric cancer. After creating the largest student-run charity in the world and raising $101 million, it’s clear they are doing just that.

Though Penn State is home to the nation’s oldest charity dance marathon, Temple isn’t the first to want to get in on all the fun. There are more than 150 colleges and high schools across the nation supporting their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Dance Marathon. In fact, Gaelen McCartney, founder of HootaThon, said his inspiration for the dance-off came not from Penn State, but from his sister’s participation in Ohio State’s BuckeyeThon.

Since everyone else is doing it, the only logical thing left to do is to join in on the growing dance sensation. On Nov. 8 to 9, HootaThon is hosting its first annual dance marathon in Mitten Hall. Where will this leave Temple? Following Penn State?

We can’t get carried away with school rivalry. This isn’t a football game where somebody loses and somebody wins. After all, these dance marathons are dedicated to raising support for children in the hospital. More dancing brings in more money and no one can complain about that. However, on-campus charity events like this thrive off a sense of school spirit, and as a university that prides itself on being “Temple Made,” there seems to be a few things that just don’t add up.

“Dance is a great and fun way to bring people together,” McCartney said.

Yet there are a million fun ways to bring students together to raise money as a school. The path Temple chooses to take should be the one that it feels best represents itself and where it’s going in the future. So, if Temple Made really is all about being self-made and creating successes that are all our own, why are we comfortable merely replicating another school’s success?

With more than 150 schools running charity dance marathons, students should be excited. Not because we can run a successful dance marathon, but because with 150 schools all doing the same thing, the possibilities to stand out are endless. The floor is wide open to not just raise money, but to raise money the Temple way.

“Though the sentiment behind HootaThon is commendable, the creators of HootaThon should have created an original event that they could really call their own,” freshman neuroscience major Brian LaGreca said. LaGreca’s sister is part of a sorority at Penn State that is involved in HootaThon.

Penn State students have already made a name for themselves in the philanthropic world through dance. If Temple students represent the upcoming innovators of Philadelphia, shouldn’t we feel a little less than satisfied in following in their footsteps?

With registration almost full, there is no denying that HootaThon has earned a wide range of support.

“We are all already throwing jokes around about how HootaThon will be so big next year it will need to be at the Liacouras Center,” McCartney said. While that idea is commendable, the dance marathon will always belong to Penn State. Though we can certainly support Penn State in its efforts, HootaThon will never be fully Temple Made.

We could do yoga, we could throw neon paint or we could solve crossword puzzles, all while forming a connection with a unique, Temple-centric charity of our own. Instead, we’re getting behind the nation’s long conga line. We have hoarded our creative energies to fuel 12 hours of dance. Yes, only 12 twirling hours, rather than Penn State’s 48 hours.

All in all, this is a great event. So let’s go out there, represent Temple and raise some money for children.

Maybe next year we’ll have had enough practice to come up with some of our own moves.

Mary Claire Tuohy can be reached at mary.claire.tuohy@temple.edu.


  1. I think Hootathon IS Temple Made. Temple is starting a brand new tradition, starting something that few schools have the ability to do. THONs can only be successful with schools that have the student body willing, able and determined to participate.

    My university has its own Thon, and while it is no where near the size of Penn State’s, it is OUR Thon. WE made it possible and it is unique to us. We give students the amazing opportunity to be a part of this huge change and effort to eradicate childhood cancer. What makes everything unique, too is where the funds go. Hootathon will give its money to CHOP, arguably the best children’s hospital in the country–if not the world.

    If you ask me, that’s Temple Made.

  2. Unfortunately, this article contains many false statements. For one, Penn State is raising money for the Four Diamonds Fund, as many other dance marathons also raise funds for. Many other dance marathons, including Temple, is raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The only other Dance Marathon raising funds and awareness for CHOP is Philadelphia University (First PhilaUThon took place last November) and LeHigh University (who will host their first event later in November). Unfortunately, because of PhilaU’s small size, they alone cannot be the only university to support CHOP. So although you believe this is a waste of time and uncreative, you are not thinking of the reason we are doing it. We are doing it FOR THE KIDS. We are not doing it to be creative and original. Quite frankly, every idea is based off another idea. Our idea is MORE than “commendable”, it is fantastic and it is benefiting the over 1.2 million children who will be treated at CHOP this year. The mere fact that you wrote this article is sickening. Your last two sentences, “All in all, this is a great event. So let’s go out there, represent Temple and raise some money for children. Maybe next year we’ll have had enough practice to come up with some of our own moves.” are a slap in the face for the 10 Executive Members, over 65 committee members and over 600 dancers, as well as the CMN and CHOP employees, who have worked tirelessly to hold this event. You must have forgotten our motto, FOR THE KIDS, as THEY are the reason we are doing this, NOT to act like we are “creative” and “original”. Maybe next year we can include some yoga, neon paint throwing, and crossword puzzles to our multiple activities we will be doing throughout the 12 hours.

  3. Maybe someday someone can explain to this girl that it has nothing to do with school rivalries or following in Penn State’s footsteps or looking to be “commendable” etc., but that for some people childhood cancer and illnesses are personal and that when you grew up having two of your close friends battle cancer AT THE AGE OF 6, fighting the horrendous fight at CHOP, seeing the devastating effects on them and their families and friends as well as seeing other children while visiting down at CHOP, and then losing one despite their valiant battle…then getting involved with dance marathon through your high school which seemed like a great way to honor your friends and to help other children..and then when the opportunity arose to be on the organizing committee at Temple for HootaThon , my daughter was so excited to be able to be part of that so that her passion to help ill children could continue in college…and now the benefits would actually go to CHOP, which makes it even more personal and gratifying and I for one couldn’t be any prouder of her ( Melynda)…you have given so much time and passion to this cause as I am sure so many other committee members and Temple students have done and so this editorial made me SO angry. You all have been working so hard with numerous events for over a year now to prepare for and make your first Hootathon a success….You are doing it for Temple and doing it for CHOP and most importantly you are doing it FOR THE KIDS.. ..I am going to avoid making any additional criticisms but I do hope maybe the writer will donate her hair in the locks of love section of Hootathon… it would make a pretty hair piece for a child going through chemo…I think that rather than yoga or crossword puzzles, that would be the most commendable act possible by her (other than an apology to the Hootathon committee for her condescending and actually not completely factual editorial.)

  4. As a former Temple student and a student that participated in THON in high school, I agree that it is utterly disgraceful for someone to try to put down such an amazing cause. If you had a true idea as to how this event will benefit sick children right here in Philadelphia, you would take your words and choke on them. Before I was 10, two close family friends suffered from pediatric cancers, and one of my friends unfortunately passed away when I was only 9 years old. I visited CHOP many times to see my friends and support them even though I really didn’t understand what was going on. Over 10 years later, I welcome the opportunity to get involved with such a wonderful and charitable event. I sincerely doubt that you, Mary Claire, have any idea about what goes through the lives of these families as they must fight pediatric illnesses together. I invite you to stop by HootaThon, regardless of how “uncreative” you call it, and see the true magic that can be created by people who come together for a cause. Who knows, maybe you could get into the spirit of the event and donate your hair, or even spend just five minutes dancing. I have nothing but respect and admiration for ALL of the students, faculty and alumni participating in HootaThon. It is bigger, and more important, than the things that many people will do in their lifetime.

  5. Why does it matter if Temple’s event is “original”? Colleges and highschools all over the country take part in dance marathons that benefit organizations who fight childhood cancer. This is one situation where school pride needs to be put aside and the focus needs to be put on the larger, more important issue: raising money for a good cause.

  6. I read this article and was infuriated. If you are going to write an opinion at least you could educate yourself. Hootaton is about helping people and making a difference. What has this writer done with her time at Temple to make a difference? The Executive committee and its many members worked hundreds if not thousands of hours to put together an event to make a difference in someone else’s life. And then there are the students who saw the need to participate to make a difference. It is not about being original; it is about helping the community. I am a parent who has spent time at Children’s Hospital and needed the Child Life Services and I am a parent of an Executive member of Hootaton and I am proud to say my daughter is “Temple Made” and Temple Proud. She did this for her love of children and to help them through very tough times. The members of HootaThon set out to raise $25,000 and in the end, with the help of the Temple Community, family and friends, they surpassed that goal raising over $60,000. (Not bad for an unoriginal idea) They left their mark on the community, their fundraising made them first in the northeast for raising funds for a first year dance marathon and fifth out of 300 organizations for raising funds in a first year event. But then again it is not about being first it is about helping families through difficult times. It is about making a difference, it is about helping people.

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