LMU Dance Marathon works to raise money to fight against cancer

Feb 6, 2023

Since 2018, the LMU Dance Marathon (LMUDM) has raised more than $270,000 to support The B+ Foundation and its mission to provide financial and emotional care to families of children with cancer, as well as fund cancer research.

The student-led organization brings together more than 1,000 participants, 49 board members and 30 student organizations to fundraise and spread awareness about the nonprofit on campus and in the greater community all year long.

This month, the organization will collaborate with other student groups for one of the largest events on campus, a lip sync and dance competition featuring more than a thousand performers. In March, the students’ efforts will culminate with DMFest to celebrate their fundraising achievements.

We recently invited LMUDM’s Executive Leadership team Nelly Zarrella, Sam Camper and Claire Duisenberg to share more about their organization and their important volunteer work. Read on to learn more about their goal to raise $121,500 this year.

Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Nelly: Hi! I’m Nelly Zarrella. I’m a junior Theater and Sociology double major with a minor in Health and Society at LMU. I’m originally from Australia, but I grew up in Hong Kong. I got involved with LMUDM in my first semester at LMU after going through Greek life recruitment. I was so inspired by the presidents of LMUDM at the time, and I wanted to be part of an organization that is working toward something bigger than itself. I am so grateful to be part of the fight.

Sam: Hi! My name is Sam Camper, and I am a senior double major in Finance and Economics from Denver, Colorado. I joined LMUDM because of the people; the organization is filled with some of the best leaders from different areas of campus, who all come together to support the fight.

Claire: I’m Claire Duisenberg, and I am a senior Health and Human Sciences major from Davis, California. I joined LMUDM because I looked up to many of the women in my sorority who were passionate about the cause. I continue to work hard for LMUDM because of the difference we can make in the lives of the children affected by pediatric cancer.

Q. Can you tell us about the LMUDM?

Nelly: Loyola Marymount University Dance Marathon (LMUDM) is a year-long effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer alongside The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. In the past four years, the organization has started many campus-wide traditions including “Why Week,” a week-long campaign to spread awareness. In addition, LMUDM partners with Sorority and Fraternity Life (SFL) to host a flag football tournament and a Lip Sync battle. Our year wraps up with DMFest, a showcase of student performers ranging from DJs to aerial artists, to celebrate all we have accomplished and highlight the amazing talent we have on campus.

We are lucky to be partnered with three B+ Heroes, children currently in treatment for cancer, who attend many of our events and are loved by all members of the community. LMUDM works hard to ensure that every child has the opportunity to live a childhood full of the happiness they deserve.

Sam: We have more than 40 students on our board working toward the same goal and more than 1,000 participants campus-wide. Our board and participants make LMUDM possible, and we would not be where we are today without them.

Q. What performances are planned for the 2023 LMUDM?

Nelly: We have a Lip Sync hosted by SFL benefiting LMUDM on February 17 at 7 p.m. This event also features a dance competition between the 14 organizations within the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils with around 1,500 performers total. A tremendous amount of time goes into planning the event, picking the perfect songs, choreographing the dances and practicing until perfection. The event is open to the community and tickets are on sale now until sold out.

Sam: DM Fest is scheduled for March 26 and is a celebration and culmination of our fundraising efforts throughout the year, while highlighting many of the talented individuals on our campus. The list of performers has yet to be finalized, but we are excited to see our peers show off their passions at the event. Additionally, the outdoor “picnic in the park” style event will include games, face painting and an assortment of snacks. This event is free for all LMU and Westchester community members.

Q. Can you share about the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation and its mission?

Nelly: The Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation is the nation’s largest financial provider to families affected by childhood cancer in the U.S. The foundation assisted more than 3,000 families in 2022 and aims to assist more this year. The B+ Foundation was started by the McDonough family after losing their 14-year-old son, Andrew, to acute myeloid leukemia in 2007. Andrew’s blood type, B+, became the inspiring message–be positive–to reflect how he lived his life and how he inspired others to do the same.

Q. Are you close to reaching your $121,500 fundraising goal?

 Nelly: While we would love to achieve our goal, we focus more on maintaining a positive environment and reminding ourselves that any funds raised and awareness spread contributes to the greater mission. Our goal is $121,500 in honor of International Childhood Cancer Day on February 15. During the fall semester, the LMU community helped raise $62,000, which leaves us with a huge push for the remainder of the school year. One of our goals this semester is to branch off of our campus to create partnerships with local and corporate businesses interested in joining the fight. We are lucky to be sponsored by JOEY Restaurants and Edwards Lifesciences.

Q. How can the Westchester/Playa community support your efforts?

 Nelly: We would love to have the support of the Westchester and Playa community at our events, which are family-friendly. We are always looking for support from restaurants and businesses through in-kind donations, as we will be hosting an auction at DMFest. It’s a great way for students to learn about local businesses that they may not be aware of and contribute to families affected by childhood cancer.

Q. LMU is known for encouraging community service and students contribute hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours each year. Can you share about the university’s and students’ interest in volunteering and giving back to important causes?

 Nelly: Students on LMU’s campus are always coming up with creative fundraisers and supporting different organizations. While there are many different causes, LMU Dance Marathon is extremely grateful for the support from not only the students, but many staff members and professors who attend our events and encourage us to continue fighting for a cure. One of the best feelings is having other students and organizations reach out to us to set up an event or collaboration. While students have different passions on campus, everyone truly supports each other as much as possible.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

Nelly: We would like to thank the Westchester/Playa community for the general support that they provide LMU and hope we can include them in more of our events.

Sam: If community members would like to donate directly to LMUDM, here is our fundraising website: lmudancemarathon.org/donate.html.

Claire: We want to give a major shout-out to our parents who constantly support us throughout this leadership role. LMUDM would not be where it is today without the guidance and help of our Senior B+ Program Manager, Ashley Wagner. Thank you to the “village” that helps us do what we do!

Learn more at lmudancemarathon.org.

Pictured: LMU students Nelly Zarrella, Sam Camper and Claire Duisenberg are leading this year’s fundraising campaign to raise money for The B+ Foundation and support the fight against childhood cancer.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter!