Students at UConn pulled an all-nighter, but not to study. They were up dancing for 18 hours to raise funds for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center at this year's HuskyTHON.
Chris Byrka has lived with a genetic disease called neurofibromatosis his whole life. He was first admitted to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in 8th grade.
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Since then, he has survived 27 brain surgeries.
“Connecticut Children’s has played a central role in my life,” said Byrka. “I have so much appreciation for them. They are the reason why I’m here. The care that they take for the kids is the reason they’re one of the best children’s hospitals in the country.”
For the 20th year in a row, UConn students danced all night for people like Byrka.
The night is long, but dancers said the patients and their families inspired them to keep moving.
“The first year, the first couple hours you’re like ‘I wanna leave,’” said junior Cat Nicholson, who danced for a third time this year. “But once you’re like about to walk out the door, you’re like ‘I actually don’t want to leave’ and you stay and do the whole 18 and do it again year after year after year.”
Many of patients and their families were in the Fieldhouse…dancing with the huskies.
Bill Stratton’s 8-year-old son is battling epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
“We’ve been through a lot,” said Stratton, “And to see that the students now are actually putting so much time and effort, it truly means a lot.”
Other parents told us that the student event has kept them going through tough times for years. Lesley Mara’s teenage daughter is a cancer survivor. They’ve been coming to HuskyTHON for several years.
“It felt very lonely as a family, and then we got involved with HuskyTHON,” said Mara. “We realized that thousands of people were standing shoulder to shoulder with our family trying to make a difference for our child.”
In total, the students raised $1,328,402.19 at this year's HuskyTHON.