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Saturday, Feb 27, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Ottothon Prepares their Big Celebration Virtually

By Alex Malanoski

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – OttoTHON, Syracuse University’s dance marathon, is the largest student-run philanthropy on campus. Their mission is to raise money for the kids at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital fighting pediatric illness. 

OttoTHON is usually held in a packed gym where hundreds of students dance, play games, eat and connect. Due to COVID-19, the event is going virtual this year with students participating over Zoom. 

OttoTHON 2021 Executive Director, Nyla Mulcahy, and her team are adapting to these unique circumstances. “Being on Zoom can be a little bit daunting, but we really do have a bunch of fun activity plans, competitions and fun stuff like that.” 

Morale Committee Member, Ronald Ditchek, is optimistic the event will still have the same feel and encourages students to take part. “It will be the same spirit. There’s going to be music playing in the background where everyone can dance. If you’re not a good dancer… don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunities to participate in the event.” 

While it would be much easier to cancel the event this year, Ditchek believes it is especially important to continue fundraising during these trying times. “These kids need us right now. These families need us right now. COVID-19 relief is very integral in our fundraising this year for Upstate Golisano.” 

Mulcahy knows just how vital fundraising initiatives are to struggling families. Her cousin was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at a young age. “She was in the hospital for a long time and I know how hard that is on families. That’s really tough to see a group of people go through that and not really know what to expect next. Being able to provide any glimmer of hope or any second of normalcy is something we talk about a lot. Just let kids be kids.” 

OttoTHON has raised more than $800,000 for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital since 2015. To Mulcahy, this shows the power students have when they rally together toward an important cause. “Our hospital is so close to campus and that’s something a lot of schools don’t have. We’re able to march down there and see the tangible differences we’re making in the hospital and all those kids’ lives.” 

The main OttoTHON event takes place tomorrow from noon to 6 p.m., followed by an award ceremony at 8 p.m. and the reveal of how much money was raised at 10 p.m. 

You can still sign up by texting OttoTHON20 to 5-1-5-5-5.