By Ellie Schuckman
Stepping up to the security checkpoint, the beat of the music blasting jolts from within. Laughter is heard from a distance, along with the bouncing of basketballs. Walking into the room, the black lights glare — TCNJam 2016 has officially begun.
The second annual 12-hour dance-a-thon to benefit the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation was recently held on Saturday, Feb. 6, in the Student Recreation Center, co-sponsored by the Inter-Greek Council and Student Government.
“The goal of the whole thing is to educate the community about pediatric cancer and inspire others to get involved,” senior chemistry major Alec Grossman, co-executive coordinator of TCNJam said. “To get everyone here at one single event is amazing.”
With over $64,000 raised, the event exceeded the goal set of $60,000, an increase from the $50,000 raised last year. Senior graphic design major Alyssa Grace served as co-executive coordinator alongside Grossman.
The B+ Foundation was started in 2007 by Joe and Chris McDonough following the death of their 14-year-old son, Andrew. Before succumbing to cancer, B+ became Andrew’s friend’s and family’s motto — to always “be positive.” It was also his blood type, according to Joe. The foundation is focused on “kids helping kids fight cancer” through dance marathons, 5K races and more, according to the B+ website.
“Last year, we helped 1,725 families of kids with cancer nationwide and the only way we’re able to do it is because of very kind and generous students like those here at TCNJ who do this event and raise money,” McDonough said.
Throughout the day, attendees played volleyball, ping-pong, cornhole tosses, dance battles, basketball and much more, all while sporting TCNJam T-shirts provided by Spencer Savings Bank. Some students were even paired with “heroes” — children who have beaten cancer — during the day and led them around the venue.
“(The heroes) forget about their cancer for a little while and you guys here, the students, put these kids up on a pedestal and they make them feel really, really special,” McDonough said. “It gives students here perspective. You’re going to get a test grade next week that maybe doesn’t go your way or a relationship issue, but when you look around here and you say, ‘Hey, last Saturday, I was here with kids fighting cancer,’ it kind of puts perspective on your life.”
As the evening grew, the lights went out and students put on glow-in-the-dark bracelets, necklaces and eye glasses so that they could continue dancing until midnight.
“The students here really embrace it, they really get it… They could be doing a whole lot of other things today, but they’re not just standing out here. They’re out here enjoying themselves,” McDonough said. “I see them with the kids with cancer. They’re there just like big brothers and big sisters just showing so much love. The kids here really, really get it.”
With an overwhelming show of support present that day, McDonough stressed the importance of holding events such as TCNJam at the College and explained how much it all means to him personally.
“My son should be 23 years old right now. I hope he’s proud,” McDonough said. “I hope he feels… that we are honoring his memory and his legacy.”