QTHON finds ways to hold event amid pandemic

Nicole McIsaac, Associate News Editor

Quinnipiac University’s 2021 QTHON dance marathon is structured to run as an outdoor hybrid event on April 17, given the university’s COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. 

The event is a year-long fundraising project led by the Quinnipiac students in hopes of raising funds and awareness in support of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Despite facing new obstacles, students heavily involved with QTHON are determined to hold this year’s fundraiser to the same expectations as previous years.  

“COVID-19 has definitely challenged our team to an extent,” said Jonathan Sweeney, a senior film, television and media arts major. “We have an excellent management team who works hard every single day to do their part and are extremely flexible to the current climate.”

QTHON is a fundraising organization for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center that consists of in-person activities such a dance marathon. (Chronicle Archives )

Sweeney, the multi-media chair for QTHON, said his responsibilities primarily focus on content-based work for the organization in relation to creating videos for their social media platforms. However, as a result of COVID-19, he said he has to adapt to different set-ups in order to get his work done. 

“Usually I would film (the videos) on professional equipment on campus,” Sweeney said. “Due to the pandemic, I’ve had to shift to a remote platform where videos are shot on cell phones, and I edit that way. I’ve faced challenges on how to produce content, but I’ve always made it work.”

Similar to Sweeney’s experience, Madison Stout, a junior applied business and political science double major, said her position of social media chair has altered severely due to the different format from the pandemic. However, Stout said she recognized how important her position is now more than ever.  

Typically, most QTHON events have run on ground in the past but now with university COVID-19 regulations everything is virtual, which means that all promotions of the events as well as the events themselves rely heavily or entirely on the social media pages,” Stout said. Currently, we use our social platforms and emailing to host and promote events.”

Using technology to their advantage, QTHON members have already found several ways to involve other students on campus in engaging and safe fundraising activities. Stout said she is confident with how the event’s changes have been portrayed to the student body. 

“Most of our fundraising this year has focused on online orders and multiple self-promoted things like bingo boards, challenges and incentivized competitions,” Stout said. “So far, it worked really well and we have a ton more things planned!”

However, some students are saying that although they want to participate in the event this year, they don’t know how because there is a lack of in-person activities leading up to the fundraiser. 

I feel as though incoming freshmen need to be informed more about QTHON,” said Drew Barbieri, a first-year mathematics major. “When I enrolled in the fall, I had heard of it, but I didn’t know all of the full details surrounding its situation. I think the communication surrounding this event could be ramped up to a whole new level.” 

Despite difficulties of getting new students involved, other students are saying they are looking forward to a sense of normalcy — even if the event looks different from previous years. 

“Getting to experience QTHON in person was pretty close to indescribable,” said Fiona LaPierre, a second-year graduate in the physical therapy program. “There’s tangible excitement in the room for 10 hours and (it’s) just an unbelievable time.”

“I think that it will be refreshing to be able to see everyone at once, even if it’s socially distanced,” said Joshua Zhang, a first-year business management major. “For the time I’ve been here, there’s never been any school gatherings so having this event being hybrid is something I’m really looking forward to.” 

Students who are interested in registering for this year’s QTHON are encouraged to reach out through the donor link drive or by texting “QTHON” to 51555 to begin the fundraising process.

“Trying to gauge the different possibilities and obstacles that come with planning an on-ground event in a pandemic has been stressful, but we’ve been working around the clock to ensure that QTHON 2021 will bring new and exciting things all while keeping the parts you love,” Stout said. “I’m excited, and while the pandemic has certainly provided barriers, I know QTHON 2021 is going to be an amazing end to our first Decade of Miracles and an even better kickoff for our next.”