Shadow PR Firm/PRSSA Dance-a-thon Raises Over $10,000

The University’s Shadow PR Firm and Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter raised over $10,000 for The Valerie Fund, a not-for-profit organization that supports children with cancer and rare blood disorders, during their first inaugural Monmouth Hawks Dance Together event.

The event took place on Friday, April 4 at 6 pm in Anacon Hall. A total of 185 students and faculty members attended the event in support of The Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer of The Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center.

Kelly Brockett, Co-President of Shadow PR/PRSSA, said she could not have been happier with the turnout of the event. “If you had told (Co-President) Kristi Silver and I a week ago that we would reach our goal of $10,000, and that about 200 people would attend our event, we would not have believed you.”

Brockett said the event has been in the works since May 2013. To prepare for the event, members of Shadow PR/PRSSA combined efforts with students from Dr. Sheila McAllister’s PR Campaigns and Event Planning classes to make the event possible.

Over the course of the past year, the group who planned the event developed a strategic public relations campaign that involved securing sponsors, collecting donations, creating an event logo, branding all marketing materials, creating web copy for the fundraising website, and creating social media platforms, among other tactics to promote the event.

Representatives of The Valerie Fund that were in attendance for the event included Dr. Meg Fisher, Chair and Medical Director of the Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, and Susan Dulczak, Clinical Director and Nurse Practitioner of The Valerie Center.

Fisher provided the crowd with insight about the organization and explained the importance of hosting events like Monmouth Hawks Dance Together to support children in the community battling cancer and blood disorders. According to Fisher, funding from these events provides opportunities for patients and their families in the tri-state area to receive the same innovative treatments as they would from hospitals in NY and Philadelphia, at The Monmouth Medical Center.

PRSSA_dance2Accompanying Fisher and Dulczak was Ryan Lascelles, a Valerie Fund patient now in remission, who shared his story. “The Valerie Fund is more than just a treatment center,” said Lascelles. “It is a very positive place where the staff attends to your needs. They are really good at paying attention to a child’s needs not just physically, but emotionally, too.” Lascelles was diagnosed with a rare form of Pre-Cursor T-cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a year and a half ago.

Lascelles and approximately 4,000 others are treated each year by The Valerie Fund, according to Bunny Flanders, Director of Marketing and Communication at The Valerie Fund.

Lu-Ann Russell, Director of Conference and Events Services, was thoroughly impressed with the event and the efforts to support the comprehensive healthcare of these children. She said, “For an event that was held on a Friday evening with a lot of competition from other student-run groups, attendance was absolutely incredible.”

“We see a lot of programming throughout the years and with different student-run groups, but for this to happen, an event of this caliber, was really one-of-a-kind,” continued Russell. Russell believed the dance-a-thon captured the interest of various groups, and because of the success, she hopes the event is continued in the future, on a student, and perhaps even a professional, level.

Russell believed the layout of the event was aesthetically pleasing, with proper amounts of space designated for all activities including cornhole, a limbo contest, music trivia, a craft station to make cards for Valerie Fund children, as well as floor space for dancing along to music from the DJ competition.

Kyle Evans, Alex Johannessen, and Gregg Cambareri of Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi) fraternity were the main DJs of the event and began the night with dance favorites such as “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Barbie Girl.” The three Phi Psi brothers continued to warm up the crowd for about an hour and then followed their set list by introducing the five contestants entering the DJ competition.

The competition gave DJs Nico Flora of Phi Psi, Elias Peralta of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), Marc Hahn of TKE, Griffin Nikolayuk of TKE, and Philip Nappen of TKE the opportunity to show-off their song mixes.

Nappen was voted by dance-a-thon attendees as the top DJ of the night and received a gift certificate to Buffalo Wild Wings. Upon winning, Nappen live tweeted from his twitter handle @DJPhilNappen, “Thanks for having me @HawksDanceMU! Great event! Looking forward to watching it grow! #WinnerWinnerChickenDinner #BuffaloWildWings.”

Aside from the DJ competition, another main attraction was the silent auction which, according to Brockett, brought in approximately $1,000. Items donated included an Apple iPod Nano, an autographed Carmelo Anthony NY Knick’s jersey, a Nook from Barnes & Noble, and more.

Kristi Silver, Co-President of Shadow PR/PRSSA, said the event was a rewarding experience. “[The Valerie Fund] is truly a wonderful organization and what I love most about it is that we are helping local children, and we get to see where our money is going,” said Silver.

McAllister agreed with Silver and thought the event was a “resounding success.” She said, “We started to worry because a lot of students and faculty didn’t register or start their teams until last minute.” McAllister added a lot of attendees decided to register at the door as a walk-in.

The top fundraising team was Team McKenna who raised over $2,000. Team captain Kyle McKenna, a junior communication major, said the cause “hit home” for him. “Last year I lost a friend of mine to brain cancer,” said McKenna. “I was on a mission to fundraise as much money as possible with the motivation that I had to do this in honor of my lost hockey brother.”

McKenna said that members from the Hawk TV team coincidentally wore T-shirts with the number 12 on them, which happend to be his friend’s hockey jersey number. “It just made me smile and laugh and think this is for real. I was meant to do this,” said McKenna.

The faculty team that raised the most money was “IM” (Information Management) Crazy About Dancing, who raised just over $650. Team Captain Karen Blaney had a family member who benefitted from The Valerie Fund’s services, which inspired her to get involved.

Some of the night’s biggest sponsors included Kohl’s of Brick and Ocean, who donated a combined $1,000 to the cause, as well as Buffalo Wild Wings, who donated $100. Additionally, White Birch Wellness Spa offered $5 massages and in total donated $100 upon completion of the event. Surf Taco also donated a portion of food for the evening.

Lascelles said he was appreciative of the event and all of the donations. “I was completely blown away at how well put together it was and how many people showed up,” he said. “If it weren’t for people caring about the cause and donating money, I wouldn’t have gotten the treatment I needed. Without things like this, nothing they do would be possible.”

Brockett said although the event had its struggles, reaching their organization’s goal was well worth it. “I will admit we did doubt ourselves and lose faith along the way, but then we remembered who we were doing all this for,” said Brockett. “We turned any negativity into positivity and pushed through and I am so happy that we did it because it is an amazing feeling to see our event come to life and to know that the money we raised is going to help so many children.”


PHOTO TAKEN by Brianna McCabe