Last night I participated in HuskyTHON, an 18-hour dance marathon to raise money for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Originally my motivation to sign up for HuskyTHON was that I viewed it as a UConn rite-of-passage. Much like basketball games at Gampel Pavillion and the Dairy Bar, HuskyTHON is just one of those things that you do if you go to UConn. However, the experience was profound and there are definitely some takeaways from the evening.
First off, it can never be said enough that we do not know how good we have it. Each hour of the event began with “miracle stories” of the children whose lives have been saved by the good work of CCMC. You wouldn’t know from looking at these four and six year olds that are running around the Field House, doing the worm on stage, that last year one was wheelchair-bound, another has logged over 100 hours in the operating room, and a third was born weighing only a pound. It is only by encountering these children and hearing their stories that we are put back in touch with our good fortune, if only for an evening.
Second, there is something to be said for an event that challenges your strength in the way that an eighteen hour dance marathon does. We didn’t take shifts; each participant, although they were not physically dancing the whole time, remained on their feet for the whole eighteen hour period. There is no reward for completion and no way that a person can somehow do better than the next participant, but still there is an intrinsic motivator that motivates you to keep standing even at 6:13 AM when you’ve been on your feet for twelve hours and there is still no end in sight. It’s the voice within that reminds you that you can and will meet this challenge because you greatly want to know that you did it. It’s not about bragging rights or social pressure. You could cheat it if you really wanted to, but most people do not, and it’s no surprise why.
Third, HuskyTHON taught me a little bit about perspective and my own capabilities given the right set of motivators. It’s amazing how an average 18-hour day can fly by, but HuskyTHON feels like an eternity. In terms of motivators, it’s amazing what you can accomplish if your heart is really in it. I was very grateful to sit down when it finally reached noon, but if the cause was worthy, I honestly think my body could have carried me on for another twelve hours. We hear amazing stories all the time about what humans are capable of doing given the right set of circumstances: lift a car off a person, commit an act of genocide, or saw your own arm off. We don’t do these profound things on a regular basis because the circumstances don’t call for them, but the human mind and body are amazingly capable of almost anything- your heart just has to be in it.
In summary, HuskyTHON was definitely a rewarding experience. I don’t understand how students participate as dancers for the full eighteen hours every school year, but I commend them for their drive. I will definitely be back next year as a volunteer. I encourage every student at UConn to participate as a dancer at least once during your tenure in Storrs. We all take away something different from the experience. What will HuskyTHON teach you?