Co-presidents Sneha Amaresh (left) and Tara Martin (right) with Beth Endsley, holding up a "For the Kids" sign.

The East Carolina University chapter of the Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon organization, Piratethon, has begun its preparations for its upcoming dance marathon in March to raise money for the Vidant James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital.

Junior sociology and communications major and he reservationist for Piratethon, Tara Martin, describes the dance marathon organization as a nationwide event to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), being that the Maynard Children’s Hospital is apart of the network. Martin said the event is popular among both university and high school level students.

“It's a nationwide movement (the dance marathon) at colleges and high schools around the country which focuses on fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network,” Martin said. “CMN is a nonprofit focused on raising money for local children’s hospitals in order to fund research, equipment and treatment for the kids at the hospital.”

Last year, over $15,000 was raised for James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville all thanks to Piratethon, according to Martin. This year the chapter hopes to increase its amount donated and encouraged those to help in their goal.

Sneha Amaresh, junior public health major and co-president for Piratethon, said the organization is a major event at other schools and universities around the country raising over millions of dollars. Amarseh hopes that ECU can partake in common efforts found in relation to the event.

“This organization is a mammoth at other schools and in some universities, students help raise millions and millions of dollars to help sick children, and I think ECU has the potential to do some amazing work,” Amarseh said. “We are calling on the entire student body to come out and join us in the spring at our annual Piratethon main event, and cannot wait.”

Piratethon was started last year by ECU alumni Hayden Raynor. When he graduated, he passed on the organization to Martin and Amaresh, who helped get Piratethon on its feet with the help of many others. Assistant Director for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at ECU, Elizabeth Endlsey, serves as the organization's adviser and senior communications major, Mary Ellen Hunter, serves as the vice president of External Affairs.

Hunter opened up and shared her personal experiences with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome and Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), which influenced her involvement in the event.

“In order to solve these conditions, I had to undergo many terrifying hospital visits and three heart surgeries at Duke Children's Hospital in Raleigh, NC,” Hunter said. “Two at age 15 and the last at 18 because third time was finally the charm… I used my experience to gain a level of empathy I never even knew I was capable of and have done everything in my power since to give back and dance for those who can't.”

Amaresh explained that there was a lot of behind the scenes work to plan this event such as hiring people to be on the board, finding a venue, setting a date, choreographing dances and individual fundraising. A big part of the planning process is also reaching out to the community to help sponsor the event, recruiting dancers and finding guests to appear at the event.

According to Amaresh and Martin, the board is currently working on recruiting volunteers and dancers for this years Piratethon. They are also focused on fundraising, which donors can do in groups to win special prizes.

“We would absolutely love for more people to get involved with Piratethon, you don’t need to be any good at dancing in order to join,” Martin said. “Last year was a year of building up the organization and getting on our feet, but this year we are truly focusing on making this event an incredible experience for both the kids we are helping as well as our participants.”

This year, Piratethon will be held on March 24 from 2 to 8 p.m. in the New Student Center Ballrooms A and B, but due to the severity of preparations the chapter encourages those to get involved now. The event will include catering, a DJ, guest performers and both the families and children from the hospital.

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