OXFORD, Miss. – The Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style are just two of the dances you might see when University of Mississippi students take over the Jackson Avenue Center next month for a 12-hour dance marathon benefitting LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.
RebelTHON runs from 7 p.m. April 5 to 7 a.m. April 6 with the theme “Stand for Hope. Dance for Life.” Student organizers want to register at least 400 participants to dance or just stand during the inaugural event.More than 250 individuals have registered already, and nearly $5,000 has been raised, said Adam Stanford, RebelTHON co-founder.
“Dancing, eating and providing more funds for the children and their families at LeBonheur, it will be a great event and what’s more, it’s for the kids,” said Stanford, a senior liberal studies major from Ripley.
“You don’t have to dance,” said co-founder Martina Cotelo, a senior from Oxford majoring in accountancy, German and international studies. “You just have to stand for the 12 hours, that’s what counts. It’s for the kids and that’s why everyone should join in. It’s a hashtag and a national thing.”
LeBonheur children and their families will be special guests during RebelTHON and will be welcomed by UM Chancellor Dan Jones at 7 p.m.
“We also invited local children who’ve been treated at the hospital to come out,” said Cotelo, daughter of Enrique and Irene Cotelo of Oxford. “They will be our rock stars for the evening,”
Besides choreographed dances, the event will include themed spirit hours, such as a carnival hour and a spirit theme with Ole Miss athletes. Local DJs will spin hits and popular bands such as the King Kobraz and Bonfire Orchestra will perform throughout the RebelTHON.
“There will be something different every hour, plus some families will tell how LeBonheur has helped them,” said Stanford, the son of John and Terri Stanford of Ripley. “This will be a real eye-opener and clear reminder that RebelTHON is about impacting the lives of children.”
Students and locals interested in participating in the all-night dance can register or donate online. Registration is $15 for student dancers and $20 for spirit dancers (all non-university students). The fee includes a T-shirt and three hot meals, including one sponsored by Old Venice Pizza Co. Other venues providing meals include Taylor Grocery, Little Caesars, Domino’s, City Grocery, IHOP, Bottletree Bakery, Emileigh’s Kitchen, Panini and Nation’s Best Catering.
Many students are forming teams for the dance. Stanford and Cotelo both are members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College RebelTHON team.
“Most of the sororities and fraternities have teams,” Cotelo said. “Plus, the Ole Miss Ambassadors, Baptist Student Union, Black Student Union, the Column Society and several residence halls have teams.”
Those who join a team are asked to raise at least $75 for the event, Stanford said.
“You don’t have to raise money, but most teams love the challenge,” he said. “Plus, it’s encouragement to stay standing during the entire event, so they set a goal. Many teams have hosted bake sales and raffles to meet their goal.”
While Stanford and Cotelo plan the final theme hour for RebelTHON 2012, they are also working on RebelTHON 2013.
“It usually takes a year to plan something this grand,” Cotelo said. “We started in September. But this is important and we want it to be even bigger next year. This is for the kids. It’s to make a difference, and isn’t that all that really matters.”