Elonthon to return April 10 with the same mission but a new look

The annual fundraiser brings Elon students together for a dance marathon supporting children and families at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center.

Inspired by the stories of 33 “miracle children,” Elon students recently stepped up in a big way to make a difference.

The executive team from Elonthon, the university’s annual dance marathon fundraiser, hosted its Day of Miracles on March 10. Organizers set up tables in and around Moseley Center to call on the campus community to donate to children at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center and promote the upcoming Elonthon on April 10.

By the end of the day, the executive team raised more than $30,000.

“We were really excited by the way that our campus came together on that day, and by the support we even got from alumni,” said Elonthon President Kathryn Noon ’21.

Elonthon organizers set up donation tables across campus on the Day of Miracles.

The stunning show of support is evidence of the excitement surrounding this year’s Elonthon. The event brings hundreds of students together each year to raise money, stand and dance for hours in support of local miracle children. Since the first Elonthon in 2003, the organization has raised more than $2 million for Duke Children’s Hospital patients and their families.

Anticipation for this year’s Elonthon is especially high because it’s an event nearly two years in the making. The 2020 fundraiser was hosted entirely on Instagram Live after students left campus last spring because of growing concerns about COVID-19.

A year later, the Elonthon executive team is preparing a reimagined event that offers the chance to again support local families while placing added emphasis on health and safety. For the first time, Elonthon will take place over 13.1 hours – instead of 24 hours – and happen in two shifts to better accommodate the miracle families.

The event will also take place in a number of venues across campus. Executive team members will be located at the event’s home base in the Phoenix Activities and Recreation Center (PARC), where they will live stream games, performances and special messages from miracle children.

Student participants will take part in this year’s Elonthon from McKinnon Hall and Jordan Gym. Activities in those venues will include games, arts and crafts, and other forms of entertainment. Students will be required to wear face coverings, remain socially distanced and register for activities ahead of time. Each activity will have room for a limited number of students and take place in 30-minute shifts, with staff sanitizing each space between activities.

As Elonthon organizers continue to take necessary precautions to safely carry out this year’s event, they hope to provide the same meaningful experience as every other year.

“It’s a very welcoming and inclusive environment where people from all backgrounds come together for this one cause,” said Noon, who is preparing for her fourth Elonthon. “It’s just such a strong foundation of commonality when people have this one goal that has such a positive impact.”

Hundreds of students gathered in Alumni Gym for the 2019 Elonthon.

This year’s event will be the first full Elonthon experience for Maggie Gartner ’23. Gartner, the organization’s director of morale, is passionate about her role and the opportunity to give her time to such a worthy cause.

“It is the most meaningful thing that I’ve ever been a part of,” Gartner said. “We get to hear from the kids – we do Zooms with them – and we’ve built such great relationships with them. Giving it up for 13 hours for those kids is the smallest thing we can do.”

Although Elonthon’s executive team is overjoyed by the $30,000 raised on the Day of Miracles, the group isn’t concerned about the overall dollar amount for this year’s fundraiser. To them, this year’s Elonthon is about sharing the inspirational stories of those 33 miracle children and bringing the campus together for good.”

“This has been such a trying time for all of us, and amidst this pandemic, we’ve all been challenged in ways that we never imagined,” Noon said. “It just reiterates the importance of what we’re doing.”

For more information about Elonthon 2021, visit the Elonthon website here.