Fordham Dance Marathon Sets Goal of $100,000 for Fifth Anniversary


Students mingle at the FDM Promotional Dinner to support of pediatric cancer research. (Courtesy of Claire Polacheck for The Fordham Ram)

By Joergen Ostensen

Students mingle at the FDM Promotional Dinner to support of pediatric cancer research. (Courtesy of Claire Polacheck for The Fordham Ram)

Four celebratory plaques span the walls of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) office, each showcasing the annual funds raised by Fordham Dance Marathon (FDM). The first reads $30,059 in 2014, and across the wall there is a steady growth to last year’s donated total of $91,869.75. This year, FDM hopes to add a fifth plaque that tracks over a $100,000 donated.

The money raised by FDM benefits pediatric cancer research and is donated directly to affected families in conjunction with The Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, according to Claire Polacheck, the Executive Director of FDM and the Executive Vice President of RHA.

On Thursday, FDM hosted their first event of the semester – a promotional dinner and live performance by Satin Dolls that was free for students who sent out ten emails to people they knew asking for donations.

Polacheck said that it is one of the group’s most effective fundraisers.

“We don’t get anything from the students themselves, but it really spreads awareness and [provides] big outreach into the community,” she said.

FDM’s first ever event took place in O’Keefe Commons and was mostly attended by people involved with RHA, according to Polacheck. “It’s this tiny room, it’s kinda dingy. There weren’t a lot of people there who didn’t have to be there working it,” she said.
Since then, the group has grown to become an integral part of campus, according to Haley Hauge the operations coordinator for FDM.

“[FDM] is such a common thing that you come across now. People are more comfortable donating to it. They know that it’s a good cause,” she said.

The group has also started to spread its message beyond the gates of Fordham.

In past years, the cost of catering was taken out of the total amount raised. However, the catering for this year’s Promotional Dinner was donated by Arthur Avenue restaurants. Emilia’s, Mario’s, Gino’s Pastry Shop, Joe’s Deli and Burger Lodge all donated food, according to Polacheck.

Hauge said it was not difficult to get local businesses to donate because FDM has gained notoriety.
“Now that FDM is becoming a bigger name and is more ingrained on the campus culture, of course that stems into the off-campus culture. [Local businesses] are familiar with the name,” she said.

Hauge said that there is also an effort to have a sandwich named after FDM at Rams Deli. This would help foster a constant presence for the group even when it is not putting on events, according to Hauge.

Hauge said this kind of outreach is consistent with the ideals of Fordham. “It does connect, in a sense to the Jesuit values and ideas of community that Fordham struggles at times to proceed with.”

Over the course of their five years, FDM has also attempted to expand beyond only raising money. “You want to do more than just fundraising. People can throw money at anything, but that’s not solving any problems necessarily,” said Hauge.

To accomplish that goal they have expanded their Hero Program, in which members directly visit local kids affected by cancer. They now have five heroes, kids with cancer, with whom they have a relationship.

“Being there to interact with the kids, help the parents take a moment off to breathe, giving the kids something exciting and different. It’s all very important and makes a really big impact,” said Hauge.

Prior to the founding of FDM, RHA had a philanthropic committee that focused on a different issue every year. One of the efforts was relief for Hurricane Katrina.

Five years ago, RHA did a succulent sale in Martyrs Court in conjunction with Be Positive, which began the two groups’ relationship, according to Polacheck.

Polacheck said the event led to the creation of FDM as a sustained effort for one cause.

“It’s definitely a charity that you don’t want to do a one-off fundraiser with,” she said. “Once you get to know the cause and having the relationship with heroes definitely encourages a year-long effort.”

Polacheck said this year’s promotional dinner was a success, with 120 people in attendance. The group has have raised over $3,500 already, with more money expected to come in from email requests.

Patrick Sawyer, FCRH ’21, enthusiastically attended the event because of the cause.

“My grandmother was personally affected by cancer and so the issue is close to home. [Pediatric cancer] is so tragic,” said Sawyer.

“You have so many years left, and to be diagnosed with cancer, it just feels like something is being stolen away from you.”
While he was at the event, a member of his family emailed him saying he was donating $100.

“Without this event that $100 that wouldn’t have been donated to the cause,” he said.

Other students said they liked that the event brought people together for a worthwhile cause.

“Everyone kind of comes together for this. It’s just nice to see.” said William Kingsbery, FCRH ’18.

Thomas Dang, FCRH ’20, expressed a similar sentiment, citing how divided Fordham can be.

“It’s something special when a community, especially at Fordham, can come together and we can fight for the same goal,” he said.
FDM has several more events planned this semester. Polacheck said she hopes the success of the promotional dinner will continue.
“It started the ball rolling for fundraising this year, and I’m excited to see what the upcoming events bring,” she said.