Each day last week, campus was alive with activities and signs promoting NOVAdance and its cause as the organization held its Annual Awareness Week. The organizers’ goal was to raise awareness and student participation on campus for the club, its purpose and its central event, which is a 12-hour dance marathon that rounds out a year of fundraising for children afflicted by cancer and their families through the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation.
Before any activities began for the week, the NOVAdance Awareness Committee ran a “paint the campus gold” campaign, tying gold ribbons around campus and handing out smaller gold ribbons for students.
Sophomore Carly McNulty is an Awareness Committee member and explained the significance of the gold ribbons, both for NOVAdance and for this time of year in particular.
“September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and gold ribbons are the typical symbols used to honor and show solidarity for that cause,” McNulty said. “Considering that supporting those affected by childhood cancer is our main cause at NOVAdance, and that our Awareness Month falls during such a significant month, we wanted to have visual reminders on campus to show support.”
The busy week of programming began Monday with NOVAdance representatives positioned at the Oreo to meet and greet students, inform the community about the organization and its function and sign up any students interested in getting involved.
A large part of the programming for Monday and throughout the week was spreading awareness about the many ways to participate in NOVAdance. For example, students can join a team with another University organization to fundraise or take up a role through NOVAdance itself in groups like Morale Committee or Sidekicks, a group specifically for freshmen.
Sophomore Ashley Mulhare, who has been involved in NOVAdance since her freshman year, talked about the worthwhile ways to participate.
“I’ve been a NOVAdance Team Captain for organizations I’m a part of on campus, as well as in smaller capacities in the past three years,” Mulhare said. “No matter how you get involved, it’s so rewarding, and I’m glad they’re spreading the word about it this week.”
Monday evening, committee members held an awareness panel via Zoom to further discuss and explain organization objectives and ways to get involved.
As the week continued on Tuesday, so did the committee’s information table, but with an added twist and incentive: trivia and prizes. Participants answered questions at “Hero Trivia” about B+ Heros (the children supported by the organization and the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation) and NOVAdance for the chance to win a shirt while, once again, learning more about the organization itself.
Wednesday raised the bar once again, involving food (specifically, Chick-fil-A and barbeque). Chick-fil-A sandwiches were for sale in the Connelly Center to raise funds for NOVAdance during the day, and members of the Awareness Committee held a barbeque on South Campus, including music, lawn games, free burgers and, of course, information about NOVAdance and how to sign up.
The committee also set up a “Wall of Why” at the barbeque, made up of notecards on which past and current NOVAdance participants articulated why they got involved and why the organization is meaningful to them.
McNulty detailed why raising awareness in the freshmen class in particular is especially key during this week and throughout the year for NOVAdance.
“For a lot of upperclassmen, they’ve seen NOVAdance and the dance marathon on campus before, and they understand the importance of the cause,” McNulty said. “A lot of freshmen have never heard of it though, so we want to get them interested and involved early on so that they can witness how meaningful this organization is, too.”
Awareness Week continued with a scavenger hunt on Thursday, in which participants had the chance to find t-shirts, along with an introduction to a B+ Hero. Organizers also planned a “Fitness FTK (for the kids)” event Friday with yoga on Sheehan Beach, but weather conditions forced them to postpone the activity to a later date.
Last, on Saturday, NOVAdance held a canning fundraiser and a 50/50 raffle at the Family Weekend football tailgate, as well as inviting out several B+ Heros to the game itself, rounding out a busy but successful week of raising funds and awareness.
“It was great to see so many new faces interested in joining the cause at the tables, the B+ Barbeque and the other activities throughout the week,” McNulty said.
Though NOVAdance’s Awareness week ended Saturday, students can continue to get involved. Anyone interested in signing up for a role through the organization or joining a team can visit novadance.org and click the “sign up/donate” tab to join in.