By 5:15 Saturday morning a sense of anticipation permeated the large room inside Burdick Hall.
TigerTHON, Towson University’s annual fund raiser for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, was coming to an end. But the drama was just beginning.
As hundreds of dancers waited patiently, 12 TigerTHON committee members each held a poster with a number drawn on it. One-by-one, each committee member revealed the number on their poster. When they were done, the posters would tell everyone in the room whether the committee’s $200,000 fund raising goal had been met.
As committee president Melanie Lutz revealed the final poster, the total read just over $194,000. Shoulders sagged and there were audible groans from the exhausted dancers. But Lutz had a sly smile on her face.
“Wait, we must be sleep deprived,” Lutz said mischievously as she and her committee members quickly re-arranged themselves just in front of the stage.
When they were done, a new total had emerged: $204,831.09.
Shouts and screams filled the room. Committee members hugged each other and embraced some of the TigerTHON moms and dads who had returned to Burdick Hall after grabbing few hours of sleep. More than a few tears were shed. The 2015 goal had not only been met; it had been obliterated.
“This is such an amazing feeling,” Lutz said as the clocked ticked toward 6 a.m. — the official end of the dance marathon. “I am so grateful to everyone who made a donation and everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.”
Some 12 hours earlier, the room had resembled a Friday night high school mixer, as students slowly made their way into Burdick Hall and stood on the dance floor in small groups. But by 6:30, with popular music blaring from multiple speakers, TigerTHON was in full effect!
Just before 7 p.m., the room had erupted in cheers as numerous TigerTHON kids — boys and girls who had been helped at Hopkins — danced their way into the room. In the hours that followed, many of those same boys and girls told miraculous stories of how Hopkins had made them well, often in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds.
“Hearing those amazing stories reminds me why we dance,” said committee member Krystal Escoffrey.
Escoffrey was among the 12 committee members who assembled at 5:30 Saturday morning for the big reveal. In addition to the final total, Lutz also announced the top group fund raiser: the Phi Mu sorority and their Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity brothers had raised $23,280.69 to lead all organizations.
“I was so excited and honestly shocked to hear that we had ultimately been the highest fundraisers this year,” said junior Sam Figueroa, a Phi Mu sister. “It was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by all of my sisters, the brothers of PIKE, and so much energy — even at 6 in the morning!
“TigerTHON is really my favorite event of the whole year,” she added, “and I feel so fortunate to be part of a chapter that cares so deeply about philanthropy and making people’s lives better.”