UDance’s 12-hour dance marathon will look a little different this year.
Normally held in the Bob Carpenter Center with more than 6,000 participants, UDance culminates a year’s worth of fundraising efforts for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. This year, as of March 4, the event will be hybrid — some parts held online and some parts held in-person — but co-executive directors Sara Donnelly and Maria Lilley guarantee that it will still be a fun day and that they are stronger than ever in the fight against cancer.
The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation honors the life of Andrew McDonough, a Wilmington-native who passed at the age of 14 from acute myeloid leukemia in 2007.
Greek chapters, athletic teams, registered student organizations and residence halls alike are paired with a child currently fighting cancer, known as a “B+ hero.” Through these pairings, students provide support and hope for their B+ heroes and form lasting friendships with them.
UDance will be held this year on April 25. The exact location is still to be determined, as Donnelly and Lilley are still working with the university to establish safety guidelines. Right now, they said they are toying with the idea of students only being able to stay for a certain amount of time in order to reduce exposure.
“All UD and Delaware COVID safety protocols and guidelines will 100% be followed,” Donnelly said.
Typically, participants are on their feet for the entirety of the 12 hours, dancing and raising morale — and more money — until the very end of the event, when the fundraising total is announced. This year, all 12 hours of UDance will be livestreamed so that participants attending from home can still see what’s going on.
“The goal is for people to be able to customize their day,” Donnelly said. “So, we’ll have a ton of activities going either virtually or in-person, and they’ll be able to look at their schedule and say, ‘Okay, I want to make sure that I go to the virtual scavenger hunt at 11:00.’”
The B+ heroes will not be able to attend UDance in person due to health and safety risks, but both Donnelly and Lilley promise that they will still be included. Events like the B+ hero talent show will still take place over Zoom.
“Unfortunately, the B+ heroes are all immunocompromised,” Lilley said. “So, we don’t want to risk having them come onto campus and there be any chance of them getting sick. We have to keep their health the biggest priority.”
According to Lilley, Zoom has made it much easier for organizations to see and support their B+ heroes.
“Being able to have Zoom and this virtual support has been crucial in getting our kids through,” Lilley said. “It’s really opened our eyes to the kids that we’re helping.”
As far as fundraising, Lilley said they’ve had to be extra creative in figuring out ways to raise money from home. One way they’ve been doing this is through social media dares and competitions. Students post bingo board graphics to their Instagram stories with their Venmo usernames, and their friends can send them donations. For each donation, students will have to do a dare like the cinnamon challenge, or post an embarrassing photo of themselves.
Acknowledging the silver lining, Donnelly and Lilley said that the pandemic has made them realize UDance is not just about the actual day of the dance marathon.
“UDance is a feeling,” Donnelly said. “It’s not a place. So, we’re looking forward to creating that feeling [no matter what] our day [looks] like this year.”