OttoTHON delivers countless miracles over 12 hours

OttoTHON delivers countless miracles over 12 hours

OttoTHON 2019 raised over $200,000 for Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.
Published: November 11, 2019
Ottothon 2019 featured a number of line dances, with the MCs leading the way.
Ottothon featured a number of line dances, with the MCs leading the way.

Five hundred SU students pulled on yellow t-shirts, dusted their faces with glitter and laced up their dancing shoes for Saturday’s OttoTHON. Neon lights and brightly painted posters adorned the walls of Flanagan Gymnasium, and pop music reverberated off the walls. The chant “F.T.K. F.T.K.” rose to the rafters as students boogied For The Kids. Every dancer pledged to spend twelve hours on their feet, standing for children who cannot.

OttoTHON is part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon, a national organization that has raised more than $250 million for pediatric healthcare across America. Dance Marathon got its start at The Pennsylvania State University in 1972 and raised $2,000 in its first year. Now more than 250 colleges and high schools participate in the event that supports local children’s hospitals with local funds.



Across Flanagan Gym different danceoffs broke out throughout the day at Ottothon 2019. Students could dance for the 12 hours, but had to remain standing.
Different dance-offs broke out throughout the day across Flanagan Gym. Students could choose to dance for the 12 hours, or remain standing.

This is SU’s 5th year participating in the Dance Marathon national event. Every participant of OttoTHON pledged to raise at least $100 for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Center for Special Needs, which currently has a 22-month waiting list for treatment. The funds will go to medical expenses that are not covered by insurance such as medicine, therapy, and travel and hotel expenses for families whose children are hospitalized.

In addition to the 100,000 families impacted over the year, OttoTHON sponsored eight miracle families, whose children were treated at Golisano and attended the event to share their stories with the crowd.

Emily Kulkus, a Syracuse grad, opened the day with a speech about her son Archie, who was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, a form of pediatric kidney cancer, when he was seven months old.

“We never thought it could happen to us,” Kulkus said. “But it did. Childhood cancer can happen to anyone.”

But thanks to the professionals at Golisano and the support from OttoTHON, Archie is a healthy, spunky 3-year-old who wore a fluffy, neon orange wig on stage next to his mom.

Stories like this inspire junior Cassie Grossman, who coordinated the participation of her sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, in this year’s OttoTHON after she danced all 12 hours last year.

“Before participating, you know it’s a good cause, but seeing the parents talk about the experiences they had with their kids, it just makes a huge difference,” Grossman said.

The close proximity of Golisano to campus allows students to really see the impact of their fundraising. Halfway through the event, the entire group paraded down Irving Avenue with the SU marching band to dance for the children who couldn’t leave the hospital.

Teams at Ottothon 2019 had to reach for attention and hundreds of thousands in donations to win.
Teams at Ottothon had to reach for attention and hundreds of thousands in donations to win.

Molly Coletta, the executive director of OttoTHON, sees this as a way for students to connect to the community in a personal, tangible way.

“I think that it’s really important for a college student, someone who’s so young to be able to realize the impact they can make on their own,” Coletta said.

Over the course of 12 hours, SU students raised $202,428.56 for the kids at Golisano as a tribute to the strength and resilience of children.